Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On the Road: SigAlerts and Helicopters

Most major cities will have websites and apps to let motorists know when a traffic situation or accident will disrupt the flow of traffic for a lengthy period of time. In cities like Los Angeles and New York City, SigAlert will let drivers know the location of the problem and how far the backup extends. Other options for a traveler to use to check a route are the traffic section of Google Maps or a traffic app like Waze.

Consulting apps and websites before embarking on a journey may not be able to show a driver an accident that has just happened. That is why motorists should keep an eye on the sky. In Los Angeles another signal to alert drivers that something is wrong is the presence of helicopters. Traffic copters will circle around an accident area, so I always dread when I notice helicopters over the interstate. If I see them in time and notice the slowing of traffic, I will get off the highway at the next exit so I will not spend my time sitting in traffic congestion.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)

Car chases occur frequently in California and are televised by helicopters. These chases also cause traffic problems. One day I was watching television and recognized the area where the car chase was taking place near Santa Clarita. I decided to watch the situation as the police continued to follow the car. I kept the tv on while I did other things. After a while, I heard the helicopters overhead. When I looked at the television,  I noticed the car chase was on the street where I was staying. I went out on the balcony to look and that was when I heard the gun shots. The police were shooting at the motorist. The street was closed down and traffic around the area came to a halt.

I have seen quite a few other traffic situations that have impeded the flow of traffic and brought out the helicopters. If they are after a fugitive, the police will send a copter to hover over the area to give them any assistance they may require. One night I was staying in a really nice neighborhood and heard the helicopters overhead. The police were on a speaker telling the person in a neighboring house to come out with his hands up in the air. This situation went on for over an hour and prevented vehicles from entering the neighborhood. Another example of the use of helicopters in California is to help fight and monitor fires. Any situation involving firefighting will seriously affect traffic in the area. Once again the presence of helicopters should alert any motorist to be vigilant that something is wrong in that area. While keeping eyes on the road is a good idea, drivers would be wise to check the sky as well!

(Photo taken in 2014)

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