Today we want to talk to you about Highway 1: one of California’s most dangerous and beautiful roads. When looking for a nice area for a road trip, you will be hard-pressed to find a stretch of roadway more idyllic than California’s Highway 1. Highway 1 or, to use its more romantic name, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), runs along 656 miles of California’s coastline. The drive along this highway provides some of the most beautiful coastal views in the world.
Drivers should not get too caught up in the scenery, though. Due to the fact that this roadway follows the natural coastline for the majority of the drive, it is subject to the fact that straight lines are rarely found in nature. You won’t find long stretches of the PCH where you can put on the cruise control and hold the wheel steady. Instead, you must repeatedly reduce your speed to take all of the twists and turns that this road has on offer.
From Mendocino to Orange County
The Pacific Coast Highway is an offshoot of U.S. Route 101 in the north. It was born off of that roadway near Leggett in Mendocino County. The highway then runs south through the San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area before emptying into Interstate 5 just south of Laguna Beach in Orange County. At multiple points, the PCH runs concurrently with US 101.
Take Your Time
It’s not a great idea for drivers to stare out at the lovely natural scenes as they try to negotiate this winding roadway. Fortunately, though, there are plenty of turnouts available at the most picturesque points. Drivers in a rush should skip this highway altogether and instead opt for the more speed efficient Interstate 5. If you are driving along the PCH, you should be prepared to take your time and pull over from now and then to enjoy the natural beauty.
Drivers who take the highway in one go, without any stops, can expect to go from end to end in around 12 hours when traffic is not a problem. However, blistering through these coastal vistas would be a waste. Along with the beauty available on the turnouts, there are so many other things to experience along the drive.
One of the most popular stretches of this roadway is the Big Sur region, which is home to magnificent redwood forests, along with spectacular views, hiking, and other recreational activities. Stop off here for a couple of days so that you can enjoy one of the most beautiful regions of one of the most beautiful states.
The highway also runs through Sonoma County, which makes up a large portion of California’s “wine country.” When stopping here, make sure to stay a night or two, as you won’t be able to both fully enjoy this area and drive safely. In fact, this is probably one of the most dangerous sections of the Pacific Coast Highway due to raised rates of intoxicated driving.
Dangers of the Road
The twisting roadways and the drunk drivers in wine country are two of the things that make the PCH one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the country. However, they certainly aren’t the only reasons to be cautious.
The highway runs along steep cliff sides at many points while being largely devoid of guardrails, which can be a deadly combination. In wet weather, many sections of the road are at risk of mud or rock slides.
The glorious views may be why this is such an appealing stretch of road to drive, but they also pose one of the biggest hazards. Distracted drivers account for a large number of the accidents that take place along the Pacific Coast Highway each year.
Driver’s should be on high alert when taking this road because if another driver is less than vigilant, your options are often limited. At many points, the highway is only a single lane wide, each way. With steep cliff sides and very little room to maneuver, you really need to keep your wits while driving along this beautiful coastline.
What to Do if in an Accident
Hopefully, your road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway will be a wonderful memory that you can cherish for years to come. However, you should follow the old mantra, “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.”
If you are involved in an accident on your drive, there are several steps you must take.
Stop Your Vehicle
The first thing you should do when involved in an accident is to pull your vehicle to the side of the road. Be sure you are in a spot where you are not a risk to other traffic and come to a complete stop.
Check for Injuries
After you have stopped the vehicle, check for injuries. Start by giving yourself a quick examination, then check on any passengers you may have with you. If driving alone or if everyone in your car is okay, safely exit your vehicle to check on anyone else involved in the crash. If anyone is injured, call 911 and follow their instructions.
Exchange Insurance Information and Gather Information
If there are no major injuries, you still need to call the police to report the accident. While you wait for an officer to arrive at the scene, you should exchange insurance information with anyone else involved in the accident. You should also gather as much information about the other vehicle(s) and the accident scene as possible.
File an Accident Report
You have to wait until the police arrive so that you can file an accident report. This is both a legal obligation and helpful in any legal dispute you may face as a result of the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t think you are injured, you should still make sure to get a thorough examination following an accident. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, and waiting to get checked out until later can hurt any claim for medical compensation that you attempt to make.
Contact Your Insurance
Even if the other driver was at fault and you plan to file a claim with their insurance, you must still inform your insurance company of the accident.
Contact a Lawyer
No matter who was at fault for the accident, it is critical that you contact a lawyer. A qualified car accident attorney in Los Angeles can help ensure that you don’t do anything to damage your case or lessen the amount of any compensation you may receive as a result of the accident.
Safely Enjoy the Drive
A drive along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway can be one of the best ways to spend a week’s vacation. You don’t want to ruin it by getting in a wreck. While you can’t control other drivers on the road, you can do everything in your power to ensure that your trip is a safe one. A car accident is never a fun way to end a road trip.
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