This morning I have been thinking about traffic jams and the problems of bugging out, because of an incident that happened yesterday. There was another large wildfire about 15 miles from where I live. It started alongside the freeway in several different locations over a two or three mile stretch. At that time, I was traveling from my son business to my home and could see the smoke up the freeway. So having family and friends living in that direction, I decided to drive up the freeway to see exactly where the fire was located.
At the time I did not have a radio scanner with me and had no good information other than, I could see a very large column of smoke. So happily up the freeway I go. The traffic is moving along at a normal rate, until suddenly it comes to a screeching halt. Now here I sit stuck on the freeway between off ramps in a hug traffic jam.
Now I know this area fairly well and there were other routes I could have taken. In fact, where I am sitting I can see the frontage road that is about 50 feet away with no traffic on it. I ended up sitting in this jam for not quite two hours before we traveled the approximately three miles to the next exit.
While sitting there I am thinking of how I can get to the frontage road, I saw one spot that I may have been able to access it, but I would need something to cut the chain link and then four wheel drive to get up the bank. With the stuff in my car, I probably could have done this in a real emergency.
This whole situation got me to thinking about the problems of bugging out. Now I had a good vehicle, plenty of fuel, food and water and knowledge of the area. Yet here I sit stuck in traffic, because of mistakes that I made.
Number one if I had a scanner with me I would have known that the freeway was being blocked and could have turned off before I was stuck. Number two, I could have used one of the alternate routes right from the beginning. Number three, if I had gathered a little intelligence beforehand I would have known which side of the freeway it was on and that none of mine were involved. How Do I Know When to Bug out?
Now this was just normal freeway traffic in a relatively rural area. There was no evacuation or panic affecting the traffic. This traffic jam was just normal Wednesday afternoon traffic combined with a wildfire.
Sitting there thinking about the situation, I decided that in the future, I would go to side roads as a first choice of routes. The problems with freeways are that if you are stuck in traffic you have very limited options. If I had been on an alternate route, I would have had more options and no problems. Unless you have very good information that a freeway is open, I would recommend avoiding them in an emergency.
Even without panic caused by a serious emergency, the freeway rapidly because jammed. The highway patrol were doing their best to keep traffic moving. Now imagine the problems of bugging out if there was panic and no highway patrol. People running out of gas, cars breaking down and traffic accidents. I have no doubt that I would have had to abandon my vehicle and proceeded on foot. News reports say that the fire was started by people who were seen throwing burning paper from a car.