Driving Safely in unfamiliar areas

Real Estate Broker/Owner with CELLing Realty CalBRE #01445865

Ever just get in your car, fasten the seat belt, and continue on your way without any thought that you might never make it to your destination? How do you know which areas have the most Traffic Accidents if you are just driving through? 

As a Real Estate Agent I drive a lot.....and I used to think I was a good driver.  But just one small mishap can change everything forever.  Many times we have to drive in areas we are unfamiliar with.  We drive in rush hour traffic, bad weather:  dust storms, wind storms, rain and snow storms. Whatever it takes to do our jobs.  One thing I have learned is to not just pay attention to the road, drive according to the conditions, but also know where the LOCAL shortcuts are in case of emergency.


Lucky to be alive


 Don't let Driving in an unfamiliar area do this to YOU. 

 Pay extra attention to:

Construction areas

Hills that might have burned and are subject to mudslides during a rainstorm.

If driving in the Desert watch for Dust Storms, and or flash flood areas.

Pay extra attention to traffic rules in different cities, ie: turns on Red Lights, one way streets, u-turn rules, etc.

Use a Hands Free Device for your CELL Phone.


For anyone driving from (or to) Los Angeles through the Desert  here are some of our LOCAL Conditions:

Driving along the I-10 Freeway between Beaumont and Indio gusty winds and sand storms contribute to Traffic Accidents.  In the past few months there have been several accidents caused by speeding, gusty winds, and especially the heavy flow of Big Rigs either coming  or going up the grade. Recently There have been several bad accidents, some fatal, in the Whitewater, CA area. 

Whitewater, CA


This particular stretch of the I-10 Freeway has seen an increase in accidents lately. And one of the biggest problems for us, the commuter, is if you have passed the Highway 62 cut-off, or the Haugen-Lehmann Exit.....you are stuck.  Sometimes for hours......


I-10 Freeway stopped



1. If you are traveling West from Palm Springs you can take the Haugen-Lehmann Exit , turn left, and take the road along the Freeway (see photo)  This will bring you out by Fields Road.

2. Do NOT drive parallel to Big Rigs....they have a tendancey to sway, or change lanes quickly, boxing you in.

3.  The 2 exits for the Outlet Malls and the Casino (Fields Road, and Seminole Drve)  can be confusing...Seminole Drvie is like a puzzle, pay particular attention to which lane you end up in as to which way you can turn, and when.

4. There is a Truck Scale just west of Fields Road....be careful here...trucks merge in and out of the right hand lane.


Driving from Whitewater towards Palm Springs the Santa Ana Winds often rip through this area.  Hwy. 62towards Joshua Tree, Desert Hot Springs, and Twentynine Palms can be treaturous. Also beware of cars merging from the residential areas of Painted Hills and Desert Hot Springs.  Unfortunetly this isn't the first Manufactured Home that has blown over because of the Winds. Also beware if there is an accident on the I-10, traffic can be backed up here for hours as well.  

Watch your speed..the Speed Limit is 70 mph, but most of the Drivers are going around 80 mph..or more.  Cars traveling the Speed Limit are almost as dangerous as the ones speeding.

Hwy. 62 Accidents

 Whether a Tourist in an unfamiliar area, or someone that Drives for a Living.....we want to make sure we get to our destination safely.  DRIVE SAFE.........


***National Teen Driving Safety Week October 15th 


By: Kathy McGraw - CELLing Realty

Comments (21)

Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate
It might not be confidence buidling, but hopefully you remember this during your trips :) :)  You never know when you might need this info, especially someone that has already been hit by a truck :) :)
Oct 14, 2007 11:32 AM
Ricardo Bueno
Diverse Solutions - Los Angeles, CA
That's right!!! You reminded me that I have to call the insurance. <-- And this coming from a guy who uses To Do lists...lol
Oct 14, 2007 12:04 PM
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
I bookmarked this for when I come over there on a vacation (uh huh) In any case one question...is a hatchery for chicks or turtles?
Oct 14, 2007 12:37 PM
Gary Miljour
American Financial Network, Inc. NMLS#207208 - Southern Pines, NC
Mortgage Originator NMLS Licensed in AZ and NC


Great Post to localism,

I live in the Phoenix area, but has some friends in Anaheim, and I got caught in a very bad wind storm one night going thru palm springs.  I had to pull over until it passed.  Driving conditions can change so quickly. 

Oct 14, 2007 01:52 PM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

 Sally -  The hatchery was for Fish......but now the whole area is for Mountain Lions :) :)  Seriously, the Trout Farm was bought out by a conservation group that is amassing acreage for a Wildlife Corridor.

Hey, like the picture of my car?  That was the scariest thing turning donuts on the freeway, and getting hit by a truck...... :(

Gary-  Isn't that the truth....once I was driving with my door open at about .1 miles per hour as we couldn't see anything.  Two days ago when I took the picture of the MFG House there, the wind was terrible, and many dust storms.....

Oct 14, 2007 01:52 PM
Susan Trombley
Trombley Real Estate - Wake Forest, NC
Broker/Realtor, Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Youngs

I try really hard to keep a vary large following distance. Especially when it is rush hour traffic and I try not to get mad when others cut me off, i just adjust my following distance again. and move on.

I am sorry to hear about your  mishap and I hope you are ok.

Oct 14, 2007 02:52 PM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

Susan- I am laughing because I remember many, mnay years ago we were taught to stay 1 car length for every 10 mpj....can you imagine now, yep they cut you off :) :)  but I too like to leave a big distance, just safer all around.

I am fine, thanks, and I actually had to get another White Malibu as everyone in Whitewater knows me by my car when I am driving around :) :)

Oct 14, 2007 04:40 PM
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional
Hi Kathy, Great post and such good information and it is applicable anywhere. I drive out to the desert in the spring quite a bit. I have two sand wind storms and both played havoc with my car. In one , I had just purchased a new BMW convertible and the wind literally blue the whole back out of the top, the window went went sailing. This past spring, I had just had my windshield replaced  in my Mercedes because it gotten a big scratch in it. The new windshield was a week old and by the time I got home from my trip on I-10, there are so many flecks in it from the sand pummeling it, when the sun hits it, it radiates with twinkles when the sun catches the multitude of flecks out of the glass. Next time I go in late January 08, I am renting a car,lol. As I read about your cations on 1-10 in your post, it reminded me again. (-: 
Oct 15, 2007 04:01 AM
Rey Gallegos
Supreme Lending (NMLS ID #2129) - Las Vegas, NV
FHA, VA, Home Loans Las Vegas, NV
The most important line in your post was about the hands free device for our cell phones.  We are all guilty and cell phones are VERY distracting.  Great reminder post.
Oct 15, 2007 04:36 AM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

William-  You story is a great reminder....just the other day I saw one of those small passenger trucks on the side of the off-ramp with the cover blown off!!!!  The Wind, and Sand can indeed wreck havoc on your car.... and people need to SLOW DOWN in these areas.

Yes...with your luck a rental car might not be a bad idea :) :)

Rey- Yes...they are distracting, even with the Hands Free Device......we get involved with the conversation and lose our attention on the Road.  I mostly pull over if it is a conversation, or call, that needs more than a couple seconds of attention......one accident is enough for me :) :)

Oct 15, 2007 04:54 AM
Cynthia Tilghman, Realtor® Onslow County NC Home Specialist
Kingsbridge Realty, Inc - Hubert, NC
Hi Kathy,
Reading your blog just reminds me how different our locations are.  We do not have mudslides or dust storms.  We do have lots of road construction, impatient drivers, drivers talking on cell phones and a variety of other traffic hazards.  I was caught in a 2 hours delay on Saturday morning while trying to get to my Mom's to pick up my daughter.  It is frustrating and I admit my patience wears thin.  At least I was not on my way to an appointment.  There is always a bright side to everything, right?
Oct 15, 2007 07:14 AM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

Cynthia-Indeed there is always a bright side to things :)   I love learning about different areas; I travel a lot....but I am not sure if I prefer the mudslides and dust storms or the snow storms.  One thing all areas seem to have is the cell phones.......but soon even this will be regulated, although traffic delays won't :) :)


Oct 15, 2007 06:40 PM
Todd Clark - Retired
eXp Realty LLC - Tigard, OR
Principle Broker Oregon

Kathy, please tell me the damaged car isn't yours! I see air bag deployment and don't wish that on you or anyone I know. (OK, There was that one guy, but he deserved it)

Oct 25, 2007 05:56 PM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

Todd- I wish I could tell you that wasn't my car.  and yes the airbags deployed, cutting my arm, chest damage, etc. but I lived :)  Scariest thing in the world spinning out on the freeway, then coming to a stop facing the oncoming traffic........

I guess it just wasn't my time, as everyone told me how lucky I was not to have been killed......it was horrible......

Oct 25, 2007 06:14 PM
Todd Clark - Retired
eXp Realty LLC - Tigard, OR
Principle Broker Oregon

I'm so sorry, that sucks! I'm glad you are alright though. Don't want to lose California friends when I'm looking to go their possibly later this year or early next year.


Oct 25, 2007 06:27 PM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

Todd- yep it did suck...but that's why they call them "accidents"....

So, when are you coming, and what area?  I'm going to Hawaii for a couple weeks at Thanksgiving......but that's it...no month off for me this year :(

Oct 25, 2007 06:32 PM
Todd Clark - Retired
eXp Realty LLC - Tigard, OR
Principle Broker Oregon
Not sure, it depends when I reach my goal. I wrote a blog about it goal setting today. Last years was Yellowstone, this year it is Disney Land. Looking more like Early January, kids are home taught and less crowds if we go during the school year, instead of something like Christmas break.
Oct 25, 2007 06:38 PM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

Nice....yes, much cheaper after the Holidays, and not on a week-end when it is so crowded.......good choice.....anyway, when you do come let me know.


Oct 25, 2007 06:41 PM
Rick Jacobsen
New Homes Section - Scottsdale, AZ
Great post, as always!! I know exactly what you mean when having to adjust to different cities traffic rules and laws. I'm sure many ActiveRain have visited and driven in Mexico... let me tell you, the first time I drove through the heart of Rocky Point I couldn't believe my eyes! It appeared that none of the locals obeyed the traffic signals!
Oct 26, 2007 07:32 AM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate
Rick- I apologize for answering so late....fifty lashings I'm sure are deserved :0  I have driven in Mexico many times, and you are so right.....try driving in europe,, now that is a mess :)
Dec 13, 2007 06:24 AM