This time of year always brings with it a predictable amount of holiday travelers that generally makes the transit routes exiting and entering major US cities somewhat of a nightmare. Though I pride myself on knowing local Los Angeles traffic patterns, this holiday season traffic rush was not on my radar. With Christmas falling on a Tuesday and New Years Eve the following Monday, I had wagered that the Wednesday through Friday following Christmas would be decent days for my trucks to get some hauls in. In all my planning, the main portion of the travelers leaving Los Angeles for highly sought after Northern destinations like Las Vegas and Mammoth Lakes were predicted to trickle out throughout the remainder of the week, with a mass exodus of the area around lunchtime Friday. Boy, was I ever wrong in predicting it this year!
As my Wednesday hauls went into full swing by mid-morning, me and one other of my trucks began our journey up the I-15 corridor through Cajon Pass, the main artery between Los Angeles and Las Vegas that climbs up the San Bernardino mountains to let you out into the California High Desert. I was heading up from San Diego, about an hour ahead of the other driver, but traffic was already starting to build as far South as Corona, CA and was bumper to bumper all the way to Victorville where I shut down for the night. The extra hour between our trucks must’ve made a huge difference in the severity of the traffic though, turning the usual 4.5 hour drive for the other truck that had a straight through delivery to Vegas out of Ontario, CA, into an agonizing 8 hour drive! It seems that a lot of people planned their vacation days appropriately to let them head out to their destinations a week ahead of their New Years Eve celebrations and the exodus I predicted for Friday actually occurred on Wednesday instead.
The unpredictability of these holiday traffic patterns this time of year is why I have sometimes seen people saying they often take the entire week or two off and out of the truck between the holidays, just for that reason alone. It creates a sort of “To haul or not to haul?” scenario as a result of truckers not wanting to chance doubling drive time on some runs that results from massive amounts of holiday traffic. After this happened I decided, with concurring nods from my drivers, to just cover the dedicated work locally we had going on and to pull back on the afternoon runs and Vegas lanes until after the holiday chaos subsides next week. In our operation predicting and knowing traffic patterns is crucial to making load-planning work, so it makes no sense to go up against the unpredictability that this year’s holiday traffic is creating. We can still make our regular customers happy, while keeping our sanity intact by not forcing runs into the extremes of getaway traffic. No longer will I smirk when I see others online talking about “resetting” during the entire Christmas and New Year time period! In fact, you may catch us joining them when possible from now on! Sometimes it’s just not worth fighting all day like a salmon swimming upstream!