Freeway Help… Who to call?

Being Angelinos, or Los Anelesers, or SoCalers, or Los Angeleistas or whatever we’re calling our selves these days we’re on the freeway a lot. You are are on there enough you are bound to see some scraps of wood or furniture or tires or other debris on the road. Possibly in the middle of the road and possibly causing big problems. So the question that is being asked, repeatedly, is what to do about it. And really what to do that will be effective, not just the slate response which may or may not do anything. Here’s a recent comment made by G-Net with more details on the problems:

“The other morning at nearly 4 am I was driving down the 110 and there was a crashed and abandoned car blocking the #1 lane. i called 911 and kept getting a quick busy and a hangup. i then called 311 and told them. they tried to give me a number and i explained that i was driving on the freeway (now the 10 west)and that getting a pen, driving a stick, attempting to write and talking on the cell phone without a headset would most likely cause a crash. the guy then transferred me. I was on hold for about 15 minutes. I gave the information to the person who then told me that the circuits in LA were so busy that I in fact had been routed to the Bakersfield Highway Patrol but could I please hold while they radioed it in. At this point I was pulled over in Culver City in front of the parking garage I couldn’t go into because I’d lose cell service. Probably 1/2 an hour after I’d seen this car, they said they had gotten ahold of the CHP…sheesh. I hope no one crashed into that car.”

7 thoughts on “Freeway Help… Who to call?”

  1. I’ve always wondered this myself… always seemed kind of scary when I’m driving around on the freeway late at night and there’s a trashcan or some other junk sitting in the middle of the road.

  2. The situation is even more challenging for those who sit on the other end of the many phone lines, languishing under an intense call volume, unable to deliver on the promises loudly made or the expectations strongly held by others.

    If this helps… and understanding that I do not speak for any agency but ours…

    An EMERGENCY by definition is

    “ANY situation that directly endangers human life or property, and demands IMMEDIATE attention.

    All EMERGENCIES and should be reported directly to 9-1-1.

    Based upon nothing more than that description (and the fact that numerous motorist fatalities have been caused by debris in traffic lanes) the CHP has time and again suggested that debris in highway lanes of travel be reported to 9-1-1.

    Lesser freeway and motorist aid issues in Los Angeles County reported by cellular phone are now suggested to call #399.

    The 3-1-1 number within the City of Los Angeles is for routine and non-emergency assistance for municipal government services provided by the City of Los Angeles. The freeways, overseen by the CHP and Caltrans are not within the purview of City officials. In Los Angeles, 3-1-1 is not a viable alternative for reporting concerns or asking questions that are not directly related to City government. It is important to note that 3-1-1 may work differently in other communities.

    Please know that it comes with a deep sense of frustration to many 9-1-1 calltakers across The Golden State that there are so many “solutions” that purport to “re-direct calls” or “lessen the impact” on 9-1-1 systems, but so few that directly support enhancing the in-house capabilities of 9-1-1 call centers, especially the *staffing* that is so critical to their success in the face of a burgeoning call for real emergencies. Oh well, that’s an issue for someone else to bring up at another time and in another forum.

    There are many changes taking place to 9-1-1 within California this very week, and many more to come in the months ahead. Ditto for the many quick dial and convenience access numbers for existing service systems (2-1-1, 3-1-1, 5-1-1, 7-1-1 and in LA #399 cellular).

    Many of the aforementioned systems are at or near their inception, and in many (but not all cases) the hard-working people behind the scenes are doing their best to now and in the future help as many people as quickly as possible.

    It would be a wonderful thing to have a well-trained and omnipotently powerful person waiting at all times to answer on the first ring to any of the numbers listed above the instant one of us calls. Sadly, there are several million people who think the same thing, and hundreds who act upon that notion every minute of every day.

    With warmest regards,


  3. After multiple commutes of suffering through the angst of wondering if I should have called called somebody important, I learned the number for CHP: (323) 906-3434.

    Since then I have made the call three or four times, and within 1-4 minutes, spoke to a friendly operator. The first call I learned exactly what ‘#2 lane’ means. Another time I reported a ladder. And the craziest one was when I found the number and called before the hazard landed in the road.

    I told the operator, the 5 North has four chairs near the two lane. She said no problem, she would dispatch a unit. I drove on believing I had done the best I could do.

    Is it better to call 311, 911, or CHP directly? Is there an official government recommendation?


  4. Why did I get an error (Your comment was denied for questionable content) for this paragraph? I originally had this before I told the operator. I’ll remove words until it gets accepted…

    Four white plastic chaise lounges sat on top of the load. The feet of the chairs were near the FRONT of the bed, and higher than the head of the chairs. By the time someone answered, the chairs were on the asphalt. First one, followed by the second, and the last two at once.

  5. As they took flight from the truck, a motorcyclist who had not yet noticed the i-m-p-e-n-d-i-n-g d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r raced up from the three lane, and swerved into the two lane the moment the first chair was landing. A moment later he was in the one lane, accelerating, averting doom.

  6. The craziest near-death experience I had while driving was when I was on the 5 South near an off-ramp in Burbank. There was a flatbed tow truck carrying a wrecked car directly in front of me, and I switched lanes to get towards the offramp. Less than five seconds later, the front bumper from the wrecked car flew *off* and landed where my car would’ve been had I had stayed in that lane. Judging by the angle it landed at, it would’ve hit my windshield and probably would’ve gone *through* it.

  7. A few years ago I was driving east on the 210 at night, and this huge THING was taking up an entire lane. “Thing” is the best description I can give you, because honestly I still have no idea what it was. All I could tell was that it was big enough to take up an entire lane… the #3 lane I believe. I slammed on my brakes and changed lanes quickly to avoid it. I hit 0 on my cell phone to get the operator. I ask for the California Highway Patrol. She transfers me very quickly, and I hear “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

    Well I didn’t mean to take up the 911 line, but since that’s the way it rolled, I quickly told the operator about the thing in the #3 lane and the operator said they’d handle it soon.

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