Slow Down on Wet and Local Roads

Drivers may be lulled into thinking that emptier roads mean traveling faster but CHP officers say this isn’t so … especially in wet weather.

Photo courtesy of LASD Montrose Search and Rescue team responded to a call of a car going off the road and over the side of the mountain. Thankfully no one was injured.


The recent rains have helped the Los Angeles area to meet its normal rainfall numbers. From the weather season that is measured from Oct. 1, 2019 to present, the amount of measured downtown rainfall is 13.71 inches. The area had a dry winter and, thanks to March and the first part of April, the rain helped to prevent an early fire season.

There is more rain on the way as showers continue today and into early Friday with a 40% chance of rain for Friday morning, then 30% in the afternoon, said Carol Smith, meteorologist at National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“[The rain] is lingering a lot longer now with scattered showers all day [Friday],” she added.

It might be a little wet into the weekend, but no huge storms are expected, she said.

Although the rain is helpful regarding the fire season, it is not helping traffic on local roads, especially with COVID-19 guidelines of Safer at Home keeping roadway traffic light.

“We do want people to slow down, the wet roadways contribute to accidents,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Vincent Ramirez. “We see people spinning out and hydroplaning.”

Ramirez said officers are also concerned about unsafe lane changing and drivers following other vehicles too closely.

The freeways that are usually packed with cars almost every hour are now traffic light due to so many people following the Safer at Home guidelines and working from home or staying home as part of the growing unemployed society.

“What happens when people see a wide open [road] is they have a tendency to speed up, but we want to caution people that this is dangerous,” Ramirez said.

As freeway traffic appears to be light, the Crest [SR 2] traffic has been busy … and dangerous.

“We have seen a small uptick in [accidents],” said Sgt. John Gilbert, LA County Sheriff’s Dept./Crescenta Valley Station. “[With requirements] to social distance a lot of places are closed, so there is not a lot of entertainment. People decide they will go for a drive in Angeles National Forest [ANF] Highway and the Crest.”

Gilbert, who is the coordinator for Montrose Search and Rescue [MSAR], added that when the weather is good, there is an incredible upsurge of vehicle traffic in ANF. He said another deputy, who has been with the station for a long time, equated the current crowded ANF roads to the Fourth of July, which is one of the busiest times on the Crest.

The MSAR responded to several call-outs of vehicles over-the-side of the road with speed being an apparent factor.

“There was one accident near mile marker 31 on the Crest. Caltrans was doing road work and vehicles were moving slowly when a car came up [too fast] and did an evasive maneuver, swerved and went off the side of the road,” Gilbert said.

There was another accident on Little Tujunga Road when a vehicle swerved, went off the road and landed on another vehicle that had been involved in an accident a long time before.

Gilbert listed accident after accident as cars went over the side of the Crest, spun out or flipped over, landing on the their roof.

Although CHP is in charge of investigating vehicle accidents along the Crest, Gilbert said that, “speed is the primary causal factor for these accidents.”

He added that people are driving faster than the speed limit and, when adding in wet roads and rocks or snow, that makes for very unsafe conditions.

“The Crest speed limit is 45 miles per hour in each direction and you have the switchbacks and slightly slanted roads,” Ramirez said. “We also have a lot of debris [on the road].”

He added that debris on the road is dangerous, especially for those on motorcycles.

Even though many of the trails are closed in the ANF, MSAR is still keeping busy with calls concerning lost or stranded hikers.

“We had two calls on Monday concerning stranded hikers,” Gilbert said.

One call was in regard to a hiker who was lost and another was hikers who found themselves in snow and ice, and one of the hikers was injured.

Gilbert added there are hikers who go for what they think will be a quick hike and think the weather was nice in the valley, then find that the mountain has snow. A light hike when a person is unprepared for the extreme weather can turn into an MSAR rescue call-out.

For those wanting to take a drive, either on the Crest or on the freeways, they should know that CHP officers are out on the roadways despite some rumors that officers are not giving citations to drivers who violate traffic laws.

“If that’s what it takes to slow people down we will write tickets,” Ramirez said.