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The Cajon Pass Slow Traffic Phenomenon

bk2drvr

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So I've been traveling up and down the Cajon pass my whole life (I'm 49 now) and remember a time not that long ago when the Cajon pass was always moving both directions pretty much any time day or night. What happened? I drive back and forth to the river very frequently and i can't figure out for the life of me where the problem is.

Heading northbound one might say the uphill ascent of the pass slows the overloaded hwy bringing traffic to a crawl. However the same problem exists on the southbound side starting at the top from Victorville and crawls south down through the pass until you reach the 15/215 split and then speeds up again. Going northbound the the traffic starts moving as you crest the summit and descend into Hesperia/Victorville and you're up at highway speeds again.

Some additional observations:

The 15/215 split traveling southbound transitions from 4 lanes through the pass to 2 lanes on the 215 and 4 lanes on the 15. Again even more reason for the southbound lanes through Cajon Pass to always be moving fast.

Norhbound speeds increase at the summit of Cajon Pass every single time but why? I think you even lose a lane up there as you crest the summit.

Anyone have an opinion on why this problem exists through this area every single day of the week?
 

Lavey5150

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I could not agree with you more, been driving that grade my entire life. I can only conclude that folks are scared of tipping over on that treacherous left hand hook prior to climbing the grade🤣, and skeered of the descent on the way down:oops:. It drives me nuts.:mad:
 
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Tooms22

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It’s the curves in the road. I’ve noticed it for years on all the freeways.
Curves in the road and... hills and city folk.

People don't understand that your vehicle's engine has to work harder going uphill. It's like they don't want to hear the engine noise or something. So someone you're following going 80 to the bottom of the pass... will then drive 63 up the whole pass.

Now, for the downhill, I think people are just afraid. You can see pretty far down and they think that their car is going to gain 40 miles per hour and they'll have to take the runaway truck ramp. So everyone is on and off the brakes the whole way down.

Factor in the curves and people who rarely leave the straight, flat, planned streets of OC or LA (except for Vegas) and... you have yourself a good ol' fashioned clusterf*ck.
 

Rajobigguy

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It’s the curves in the road. I’ve noticed it for years on all the freeways.
Yep, even the 605 N. coming out of Long Beach. There is a small gradual curve that everyone goes from 70 down to 45 then right after the curve it's back to 70 (traffic permitting).
 

bk2drvr

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I think there is an 18 wheeler factor to this also. I can't prove it but if I was a betting man I'd bet they are a significant contributor to the problem. I just can't pin point how or where it occurs.
 

gqchris

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So I've been traveling up and down the Cajon pass my whole life (I'm 49 now) and remember a time not that long ago when the Cajon pass was always moving both directions pretty much any time day or night. What happened? I drive back and forth to the river very frequently and i can't figure out for the life of me where the problem is.

Heading northbound one might say the uphill ascent of the pass slows the overloaded hwy bringing traffic to a crawl. However the same problem exists on the southbound side starting at the top from Victorville and crawls south down through the pass until you reach the 15/215 split and then speeds up again. Going northbound the the traffic starts moving as you crest the summit and descend into Hesperia/Victorville and you're up at highway speeds again.

Some additional observations:

The 15/215 split traveling southbound transitions from 4 lanes through the pass to 2 lanes on the 215 and 4 lanes on the 15. Again even more reason for the southbound lanes through Cajon Pass to always be moving fast.

Norhbound speeds increase at the summit of Cajon Pass every single time but why? I think you even lose a lane up there as you crest the summit.

Anyone have an opinion on why this problem exists through this area every single day of the week?
I noticed it also, and I attribute it to thousands of people being priced out of Orange and LA County so they take that dreaded commute up and down to their "dream homes" in the high desert.

Add that to the Covid traffic, and thats what we are experiencing now.
 

bk2drvr

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Couple of you saying curve in the road, I'm finding that one tough to believe as the problem. I guess? maybe?
 

Taboma

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So I've been traveling up and down the Cajon pass my whole life (I'm 49 now) and remember a time not that long ago when the Cajon pass was always moving both directions pretty much any time day or night. What happened? I drive back and forth to the river very frequently and i can't figure out for the life of me where the problem is.

Heading northbound one might say the uphill ascent of the pass slows the overloaded hwy bringing traffic to a crawl. However the same problem exists on the southbound side starting at the top from Victorville and crawls south down through the pass until you reach the 15/215 split and then speeds up again. Going northbound the the traffic starts moving as you crest the summit and descend into Hesperia/Victorville and you're up at highway speeds again.

Some additional observations:

The 15/215 split traveling southbound transitions from 4 lanes through the pass to 2 lanes on the 215 and 4 lanes on the 15. Again even more reason for the southbound lanes through Cajon Pass to always be moving fast.

Norhbound speeds increase at the summit of Cajon Pass every single time but why? I think you even lose a lane up there as you crest the summit.

Anyone have an opinion on why this problem exists through this area every single day of the week?
Because people don't know how to drive consistently anymore. They somehow fail to realize they're going uphill, so continue to slow since apparently their right ankles are immobile. Their idea of consistently is leaving their throttle in the same position regardless of how the force of gravity or wind is acting upon their vehicle.
Then, we come to the downhill grade, awesome, except now they're continuing to accelerate and as they approach vehicles actually attempting to drive consistently, they're forced to brake. Once one car's brake lights come on, EVERYbody's comes on.
All it takes is one car hitting the brakes and 20 cars hit the brakes, now 40 cars, until finally it's realized there's no need for brakes, so it's now time to punch it again --- rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.
San Diego is horrible for this, either there's grades or descents, or worse, there's bends in the freeway and to make matter worse, they've added many lanes and now none of the expansion joints align with the striping. Better hit the fucking brakes just because, somebody else did, somewhere.

In the early 2000s before I retired, I was doing several large projects in Orange County. This meant at least a couple of days a week I was leaving north San Diego before dawn. By the time I got to Capistrano the freeway was getting loaded up with commuters. But 95% of those mornings, every lane was filled Nut-To-Butt with cars, but it moved in perfect symmetry, I used to marvel how this solid snake of vehicles moved with such ease.
It was a thing of true beauty, crowded with cars, all of us rolling at 65+. That is, right up until some self absorbed, jack-hole, lane diver decided he was far more important then the rest and figured if he kept swapping lanes and cutting others off, he'd improve his time by 45 seconds. That invariably resulted in brake lights, which begot more brake lights and once the symmetry was broken, there was no recovering it. Now Chaos was the rule.
So what I say is, remove the brakes, might as well remove turn signals too, nobody uses them anyway. Just force everybody to drive with the throttle and planning ahead --- well, OK, I suppose traffic signals could be a challenge 😂
 

gqchris

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More and more people are using adaptive cruize control which is too cautious to slow, creates congestion.
I gotta be honest, on my adaptive cruise it downright scares me on the closet car setting sometimes. It gets right up on the next car.LOL.....im always thinking one day its not gonna work right!
 

RIVERDAZE

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The curve is part of it and the trucks going 3 wide at times up the hill, add in the weigh station with a couple cop cars everyone rubber necks at. The other issue is always that one asshole that has to go 10 mph faster then everyone else, weaving in and out of lanes cutting everyone off and slaming on their brakes every lane change and making other cars hit the brakes then it's chain reaction of brake lights for every lane so on up the hill.
 

Lavey5150

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These fucking semi drivers now don't know shit about fast lane ethics. These rooks don't flash the Bright's after a pass to allow the let back.
 

Ol Man

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I don't think trucks have been flashing their lights as much as in the past. I gotta feeling it may be an insurance liability issue.
 

77charger

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Use to be it was clear sailing once you got to the Cajon pass. Then construction came.
 

Ziggy

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Because people don't know how to drive consistently anymore. They somehow fail to realize they're going uphill, so continue to slow since apparently their right ankles are immobile. Their idea of consistently is leaving their throttle in the same position regardless of how the force of gravity or wind is acting upon their vehicle.
Then, we come to the downhill grade, awesome, except now they're continuing to accelerate and as they approach vehicles actually attempting to drive consistently, they're forced to brake. Once one car's brake lights come on, EVERYbody's comes on.
All it takes is one car hitting the brakes and 20 cars hit the brakes, now 40 cars, until finally it's realized there's no need for brakes, so it's now time to punch it again --- rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.
San Diego is horrible for this, either there's grades or descents, or worse, there's bends in the freeway and to make matter worse, they've added many lanes and now none of the expansion joints align with the striping. Better hit the fucking brakes just because, somebody else did, somewhere.

In the early 2000s before I retired, I was doing several large projects in Orange County. This meant at least a couple of days a week I was leaving north San Diego before dawn. By the time I got to Capistrano the freeway was getting loaded up with commuters. But 95% of those mornings, every lane was filled Nut-To-Butt with cars, but it moved in perfect symmetry, I used to marvel how this solid snake of vehicles moved with such ease.
It was a thing of true beauty, crowded with cars, all of us rolling at 65+. That is, right up until some self absorbed, jack-hole, lane diver decided he was far more important then the rest and figured if he kept swapping lanes and cutting others off, he'd improve his time by 45 seconds. That invariably resulted in brake lights, which begot more brake lights and once the symmetry was broken, there was no recovering it. Now Chaos was the rule.
So what I say is, remove the brakes, might as well remove turn signals too, nobody uses them anyway. Just force everybody to drive with the throttle and planning ahead --- well, OK, I suppose traffic signals could be a challenge 😂
Yup, the snowball effect of brakelights...simple as that.
 

Water Romper

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I think its the looky-loos taking in the San Bernardino Mountains, the interesting geography and god forbid a train is running through. Yup, that's what I think, folks have never seen a mountain before or the transition from flat land, up a hill to the high desert. Oh, and the turns, 18 wheelers and idiot drivers 🤣
 

thedan

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British Drivers going 45 in the #1 or #2 lane while I go 75 in the 2 right lanes. It is the snowball effect. They have it all backwards!
 

Ragged Edge

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Our roads are full of drag racers. Go like a bat out of hell in a straight line, can't turn for shit or pass a large vehicle in the next lane. That and TOO MANY DAMN PEOPLE!
 

ChumpChange

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Yup. It's amazing what Curves do. Traffic personnel know it as well. The Glendora Curve on the 210 slows down for no other reason at all. That's why it's referred to as the Glendora curve.
 

Ziggy

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Yup. It's amazing what Curves do. Traffic personnel know it as well. The Glendora Curve on the 210 slows down for no other reason at all. That's why it's referred to as the Glendora curve.
What amazes me even more is how many people fear they will "tip over" on those curves at 55 because the sign said 45.🙄😄
 

samsah33

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The 10 leaving Coachella Valley heading to the lake - can't tell you how many close calls I've had with a 40mph truck swinging out into the left lane to pass another 35mph truck... I've slammed on my brakes too damn many times with this exact situation. Yes, and then there's the people riding their brakes on a downhill grade... Don't get me started... :mad:
 

c_land

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All of the above. I would then add in those people glued to the MPG meter on their cars trying to get a high score.
 

musicFunsun

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All of the above plus People are doing so many other things while driving. Drive the freeking vehicle!! Totally pisses me off😡
 

Melloyellovector

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I have been using cajon pass my entire life. If it wasn’t river trips it was mountain trips etc
used to be able to coast at 80-85 nearly entire way down not that long ago.
Now , no fukin way. Well unless you leave havasu around 8-9 pm and hit the pass at close to midnight. Then smooth sailing entire way
construction and lane closures etc was the first slow down.
I did notice that newer speed limit signs last few years, and notably along with the heavier traffic
right AND LEFT ( for trucks why is it even posted on left ! ) side of freeway have large 45MPH signs. In small writing for trucks.
there is not normal speed limit signs posted near them. So for peeps that don’t travel it often all they see is 45 limit, stomp the brakes. Then oh shit this is steep and curves if limit 45 we should reduce speed by half for curves.
trucks are not even remotely the problem, nearly every day slow/truck lane is going faster then rest of freeway.
dumb drivers and dumb signs = equal dumb traffic
 

YeahYeah01

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So I've been traveling up and down the Cajon pass my whole life (I'm 49 now) and remember a time not that long ago when the Cajon pass was always moving both directions pretty much any time day or night. What happened? I drive back and forth to the river very frequently and i can't figure out for the life of me where the problem is.

Heading northbound one might say the uphill ascent of the pass slows the overloaded hwy bringing traffic to a crawl. However the same problem exists on the southbound side starting at the top from Victorville and crawls south down through the pass until you reach the 15/215 split and then speeds up again. Going northbound the the traffic starts moving as you crest the summit and descend into Hesperia/Victorville and you're up at highway speeds again.

Some additional observations:

The 15/215 split traveling southbound transitions from 4 lanes through the pass to 2 lanes on the 215 and 4 lanes on the 15. Again even more reason for the southbound lanes through Cajon Pass to always be moving fast.

Norhbound speeds increase at the summit of Cajon Pass every single time but why? I think you even lose a lane up there as you crest the summit.

Anyone have an opinion on why this problem exists through this area every single day of the week?
I drive it almost daily. It's insane. So frustrating to go from 10mph to 80 with no indication as to why.
 

Racey

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Everything above plus a lot more commuters that live in Victorville and Hesperia coming down the hill everyday for work. I came down about 530 last night and never touched the brakes doing 75-80, traffic going up was jammed however. Always has seemed to me that it's jammed going down in the mornings and up in the afternoons?
 

YeahYeah01

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Everything above plus a lot more commuters that live in Victorville and Hesperia coming down the hill everyday for work. I came down about 530 last night and never touched the brakes doing 75-80, traffic going up was jammed however. Always has seemed to me that it's jammed going down in the mornings and up in the afternoons?
Many morning and afternoons it's jammed both ways.

You used to basically be and to set your watch to it.

Now I'll leave from the IE at 1030am and think I'll be fine and it takes me 2 plus hours to get up the hill.
 

HB2Havasu

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I’m sure if your 49 and have driven the Cajon pass for 30 years you have noticed the population growth. I use to go dirt biking out at El Mirage in the late 70’s / early 80’s when there was basically a population of approximately 20,000 in the High Desert. Today there is close to 1,000,000 million people living there and commuting up & down the hill everyday. Add on thousands of more SoCal people commuting to Vegas and Havasu on the weekends. The freeway improvements CalTrans has done have increased traffic flow by 3 times. Unfortunately the amount of people now using the Cajon Pass has increased 10X since 1980. (The curves haven’t changed, lol 😂)
 

DrunkenSailor

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I have noticed on my last few times through that the highway patrol has been set up all over the pass. This equals brake lights.

My favorite is the people pacing the car next to them while in the fast lane. Faster traffic is moving two lanes over to go around. If you aren't going faster than the car to your right you are in the wrong lane.
 

mesquito_creek

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Mythbusters did a show on the accordion effect on traffic... loved those shows! It is a plain and simple explanation. But it demonstrated that even with a controlled group of drivers, equilibrium is very hard to achieve. Humans are just too hard and stupid to control. In that aspect I would say that if all cars had adaptive cruise controls, over all travel times would increase. But nobody would be happy to "go slower to go faster"...
 

Desert Whaler

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You’d be surprised at how many drivers are absolutely scared to death to be driving
The other day I was at a stop light in my truck . . . I look over and down at the lady next to me . . . no joke she had her Rosary Beads wrapped around the palm of her hand gripping the steering wheel . . . . jeeesh.
 

69hondo

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I drive it all the time, even get to honk and wave at @LAVEYNICK occasionally and yes it SUCKS!!!!!! Leave my house about 4:45am and its already packed until the split . Leave work around 3pm and traffic starts for me at the 215 and University until 15 and Oakhills
 

bk2drvr

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I’m sure if your 49 and have driven the Cajon pass for 30 years you have noticed the population growth. I use to go dirt biking out at El Mirage in the late 70’s / early 80’s when there was basically a population of approximately 20,000 in the High Desert. Today there is close to 1,000,000 million people living there and commuting up & down the hill everyday. Add on thousands of more SoCal people commuting to Vegas and Havasu on the weekends. The freeway improvements CalTrans has done have increased traffic flow by 3 times. Unfortunately the amount of people now using the Cajon Pass has increased 10X since 1980. (The curves haven’t changed, lol 😂)
Believe me I understand we are over populated and the high desert has grown huge! My point with this post is I don’t understand why it slows through the pass and not at the top or the bottom. Based on what you say about high desert growth then why doesn’t the traffic continue stop and go after you crest the top of the pass? That’s the phenomenon I’m referring to.

What’s more baffling is the southbound slow down. It’s downhill! Common sense would say it should be moving faster but it just proves the ascent on the northbound side has nothing to do with the problem. Lol....
 

81eliminator

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every time they take away a lane on a freeway it effects traffic, they take 4 lanes north bound before the truck scales, then traffic seems to move.
coming down, people hit the brakes because they are going down hill, then the 2 onramps from the 138 clog us up again, then it seems to move.
 

WYRD

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Lived up the hill for my entire life and as others said it used to be a decent 30min commute. Started getting heavier as time went by and by 2018 it was minimum 50min, more if accidents or fires fuked it up. Decided to make the move down the hill in 2018 and was the best decision ever for commuting. Now I am 15 min from work and have a lot lower stress from traffic. Way to many people driving that freeway, it needs another relief route over the grade.
 

WYRD

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every time they take away a lane on a freeway it effects traffic, they take 4 lanes north bound before the truck scales, then traffic seems to move.
coming down, people hit the brakes because they are going down hill, then the 2 onramps from the 138 clog us up again, then it seems to move.
That and having truck scales at the bottom of a steep grade is about a stupid as AOC at a spelling bee contest
 

Dennis-19

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Drives me nuts!!!

I was just having this conversation on the phone with someone earlier this morning. It never makes any sense. I usually have to drive on the right side to go fast because slow drivers bog down the left lanes.

Used to be that as long as left home before 2:30pm or the river before 10am it was a clear shot up/down the pass. Now it doesn't matter when we leave, the pass is always a crawl. I left at 11am to head up recently and it took 5+ hours. No accidents just idiots on the road.

Another thing that chaps my ass is the truckers who will change lanes rapidly and cut me off because there's a parked vehicle on the side of the road, yet they take their sweet ass time getting back over.
 

Dennis-19

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Yup. It's amazing what Curves do. Traffic personnel know it as well. The Glendora Curve on the 210 slows down for no other reason at all. That's why it's referred to as the Glendora curve.
Lived right off the curve for many years. Oh and if it's sunset be prepared to stop. Going over Kellogg hill on the 10 is the same.
 

WhatExit?

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An estimated 650,000 drivers are using their cell phones while driving at any given time during the day, which shows you just how much-distracted driving is happening on the road.

Bad driving behavior can even lead to phantom traffic jams. This occurs when there’s already a heavy volume of cars on the road and then a driver brakes harshly (often because they were distracted), which causes a ripple effect.

Essentially, because the driver brakes so suddenly, the driver behind them has to also brake harshly in order to avoid a collision, which forces the driver behind them to brake harshly to avoid a collision, etc. Once a driver gets through the congested spot, it’ll seem like absolutely nothing caused the traffic jam at all. It only takes one mistake committed by one driver to slow everyone down.
 
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