Monday, September 27, 2010

Traffic, traffic accidents, and how long do you want to sit on the freeway?

For those of you who haven't been on Highway 101, it's a beautiful freeway as it skirts along the coast from Ventura to Santa Barbara.  At the right time of the year you can see whales swimming close to the shore.  Unfortunately for us, we weren't in Ventura or Santa Barbara Counties this trip.  We spent three wonderful days driving back and forth on 15 miles of Highway 101 in the San Fernando Valley.  For those of you unfamiliar with this section of freeway, it epitomizes every bit of what you can imagine a Southern California traffic jam could be.  The freeway is four or five lanes wide in each direction and no matter what time of the day or night it is, it will be jammed.  Last Sunday was a nightmare for those heading westbound through the valley.  Fortunately for us we were going east. 


The road was clogged from four lanes going down into one due to an accident.  I don't know how many vehicles were involved but there was only one car left from the accident.  Four or five highway patrol vehicles were on scene as well.  The car had front end damage and was untouched on the rear.  Unfortunately it was fatal accident because the front and side windows of the car were covered with a yellow tarp.  Windows get covered when people are still inside.  The freeway was backed up for over five miles (to the interchange) and it probably took at least two hours to get through that mess. 


We had a discussion about the fatal accident.  Was the driver paying attention?  Was the person eating or drinking?  Were they on the phone?  Were their seatbelts on?  How fast were they going?  Who did they leave behind?  Will their families be cared for?  Were they someone of value?  (I don't mean wealthy, I mean did people depend on them) Were their souls with God?  We said a prayer for their families. 


We also thought about the traffic.  How would we handle being on that side of the freeway?  After all, it was only 105 degrees that day!  Did anyone have to go to the bathroom?  Would we have enough gas to idle?  Could we work our way off the freeway?  How far down the road would we have been looking or would we been in the traffic before we realized we were stuck?  We weren't listening to the news on the radio.  It was the weekend and no traffic reports were running as far as I knew.  Radio Disney was on. 


My other vehicle has a scanner to hear dispatches.  This vehicle didn't.  I have handi-talkies that somehow didn't make it into the vehicle before we left.  They usually do.  How did I over look them?  I would have had plenty of gas to keep the vehicle idling if we were on that side.  We had water and snacks in the truck.  We had more in the back.  I have my "rescue" bag with lots of things inside, including a yellow tarp.  I suppose we would have come through the traffic fine if we were on that side.  Unless of course, we were the ones under the yellow tarp…


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