Saturday, April 09, 2005

Confessions of a Sig-alert Junkie...

Yes, it’s true. I am addicted to

What is You mean to tell me that you don’t know!!?? Well, that isn’t surprising…and is probably testament to your intelligence. is a traffic reporting service. They tell you all about the wrecks, hazards, and other assorted exciting things that happen on the freeways.

My addiction started out quite innocently. When I was working in the Bay Area, I used to drive the 101 to and from the office…also known as The Bayshore Freeway. When I was growing up in the Bay Area, that particular stretch was known as Bloody Bayshore because of the high number of deadly accidents. Okay…so it was some thirty years later, but that nickname never fell outta my brain, and I’d check the traffic reports to see how the freeway was running. When it was clear, I’d make the break from the office.

Then about five months ago, I discovered that one of the local news stations here had a feature on their website of up-to-the-minute traffic reports…really a link to which is really just a duplicate feed of the calls made to the California Highway Patrol. The cool thing about Sigalert’s, however, is that they also include a neat map with key-coded diamonds marking the spot of the incident.

So I started out just checking the traffic when I was about ready to leave the office. Then I started checking before I left home for the office. Now I just check any old time I want to procrastinate… But there are some interesting trends:

There are a ton of Hit and Runs. I am appalled by the number of these. At any given time, there are usually two or three in progress. Sometimes they catch the person…other times they don’t.

Sadly, there are also a lot of people involved in accidents that have been driving under the influence. Fortunately, they don’t too often result in serious injury, but an accident is traumatizing enough.

There are lots of ladders that fall on the roadway…along with couches, mattresses, plywood, washing machines, pipes, and today…a pick ax. And there are lots of dogs that are reported running loose on the shoulders of our highways. Some make it to safety…others…don’t.

Cars catch on fire. A lot! That is a rather scary realization to someone who dreads fires...who has nightmares about fires...we'll just move on and try to ignore that trend.

I am surprised by the number of reports of pedestrians walking along the side of the freeway…with no car in the vicinity. Where are they going? Did they have a fight with the driver, and the person in control stopped the car and said: Out! Out now!!! leaving the hapless passenger on the roadway where the cars whiz by at 70, 80 or more miles per hour?

And I have to say…one of my biggest complaints about driving the freeways is how they are out of control. It is rare to see a CHP cruising along with traffic to make us all behave. But, they are lurking there somewhere close, because their response time to incidents is amazing. Normally it is only two minutes or less and they are on the scene.

So see…at least my addiction is relatively educational…which is a good thing since at this point, I have no idea how to cure it…


Why is it you don't have your roof fixed? Seems like you were talking about it when I joined the critique group, and the non-fix lasted longer than I did.

Rained all of April so far, but with only traces yesterday. The mountains have several feet of snow, when in March they had none. As mountains here usually have snow in June, this isn't enough to save the draught.

My son drives 101 daily from Palo Alto to Sunnyvale. Watch for him, he has a banana colored Jeep Wrangler. I think the speed limit there is 55. We visit on occasion, flying into San Jose. Last time we were going 75 in the slow lane and still getting honked at. He said it was the only time he ever drove in the slow lane.

Why cure the addiction? As you say, it's educational, so it's better than some. Look at it this way, you could be addicted to porn sites, or worse yet, the official Barney site... (insert evil laugh here) (shudder!)

Seriously though, those are some pretty interesting, and sad, trends. I do find it curious that there are so many people wandering the freeways - perhaps they really HAVE had fights with the drivers and been booted out of the vehicles! (Note to self: don't tick Brooke off if you're in the vehicle with her on the freeway...)

It's not that I don't *want* to have the roof is that I *can't* get anyone to come and do the work! My money for the enormous quote is ready to go...I have passed the point of shock, horror, and obscenities about home-ownership and moved passed resignation, and am now eagerly ready to write that check! Stay that Mr. Sun is ready to shine on a daily basis, I think I may be getting close to completion on this particular project...