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The Daily Mirror commuting challenge

July 3, 2007 |  6:35 am



July 3, 1957
Los Angeles

We complain about traffic all the time. But how much worse is driving in L.A. than it was in 1957?

We can find out.

Best of all, you can help!

You might be surprised by some of the results. I was.

In July 1957, the Auto Club of Southern California announced the results of a survey that examined commuting times over 17 routes in Los Angeles comparing freeways and surface streets. The Auto Club praised the freeways for faster trips and noted that it took less time to get to work in the morning than to get home in the evening. All distances were measured from the Auto Club headquarters at 2601 S. Figueroa.


(Travel time was unchanged between 1936 and 1957 even though the number of cars had tripled, according to the Auto Club. And commuting was about to get better because of the new freeways, club officials said). 

Here's how you can help: Pick one of the routes, send me your time and I'll post it. Note: All drives in the 1957 survey were conducted during weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

In the meantime, I'll be sampling a few of the routes myself. Check back and see how I'm doing. Here's one surprise: So far, driving at off-hours last weekend, I beat the commuting times from 1957 by a few minutes.

Let me say that again: So far, driving at off-hours in 2007 has been FASTER than the commuting times from 1957.

Above right, a freeway wreck and gawkers' block courtesy of the Los Angeles Police Department. Note that in 1957, the LAPD had jurisdiction over the local freeways rather than the Highway Patrol.

OK, let me know. I'm eager to hear your experiences!

Email me