Avoid LA Traffic

A UCLA Student Guide

Los Angeles is famous for many things, including Hollywood, beaches, the incomparable food scene (LA was named the 'City of Breakfast' by The New York Times in 2016) and its traffic. Many opening scenes in shows and movies use this part of life in LA to frame their pieces.

While some people struggle to avoid LA traffic, it is important to note that this adds a charm to the city. It's reassuring that people always have somewhere to go or somewhere to be. People are out and about.

The fact remains, however, that traffic is a real problem in LA—whether it is a drive to the hospital, the beach, downtown, Beverly Hills or Hollywood. Having are some tricks you can use to avoid LA traffic:

  • Avoid peak hours: The heavy driving starts in your third year of medical school, and the hours that students drive are not peak hours. In the morning, it is very likely that, on most rotations, the start times will be earlier than traffic. In the evenings, it is easy to avoid traffic by staying at rotation sites to study. In addition, of all the clinical sites at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, only Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance and Kaiser Permanente (on Sunset Blvd.) really face evening traffic. At Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, you are opposite the worst traffic and it's usually a breezy drive in both directions.
  • Use apps: Take advantage of apps such as Waze and Google Maps, which can suggest alternative side roads instead of clogged main streets or freeways.
  • Carpool: Carpooling is a great way to save money on parking on campus and on gas while commuting. While the freeways often stay congested, cars zip through the carpool lane. During the first two years, hours for everyone are the same—making carpooling a breeze.
  • Buses: There are also many places to live where using a bus is feasible for commuting to campus, and bus passes are available to students at a discounted rate.
  • Podcasts: Podcasts are another great way to use your time while driving. 
  • Embrace it: Recognize that LA is the second largest city in the United States. Regardless of the car being driven or the income a person makes, traffic is a unifying experience.

Traffic can be a problem in LA, but it is important to recognize that it is easy to avoid traveling at peak hours and find alternative routes. With podcasts, you can learn about a range of topics on the go. Regardless of what the traffic situation is, the destinations are sublime. Whether it's a beautiful day surfing at Malibu or a new restaurant in West Hollywood, it is often worth the drive.