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What to do if you're driving a car or riding a bike during an earthquake




Two men inspect damage to cars and apartment complex after Northridge earthquake, on January 21, 1994, in Canoga, California. Federal inspectors report that several hundred homes have been condemned and as many as 40,000 will need repairs. The Northridge earthquake occurred on January 17, 1994 at 4:31 AM Pacific Standard Time in Reseda, a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, California. The earthquake had a 'strong' moment magnitude of 6.7, but the ground acceleration was the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America.
Two men inspect damage to cars and apartment complex after Northridge earthquake, on January 21, 1994, in Canoga, California. Federal inspectors report that several hundred homes have been condemned and as many as 40,000 will need repairs. The Northridge earthquake occurred on January 17, 1994 at 4:31 AM Pacific Standard Time in Reseda, a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, California. The earthquake had a 'strong' moment magnitude of 6.7, but the ground acceleration was the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

It's that time of year again when Californians throughout the state practice how they'll respond during an earthquake.

As part of the Great Shakeout, we reached out to transportation experts to find out what you should do if you're driving a car or riding a train, bus, bicycle or motorcycle when the Big One, or even a small one, hits.

What form of transportation would you like to be using when an earthquake strikes? Take Two took a poll:

https://twitter.com/taketwo/status/920380102571016192

If you're driving a car...

"The first thing is to pull over as quickly and as safely as possible, maintaining a safe speed and being cautious of others because they'll be doing the same thing and shaking can cause cars to move erratically," said Melissa Vega, manager for driver services with the Auto Club of Southern California. "Find an area where you're not close to a bridge overpass, large building, trees, and of course away from electrical poles and wires."

If you're riding a bicycle...

"Don't try to continue riding," said Colin Bogart, education director for the LA County Bicycle Coalition. "Stop and then be aware of what's around you and stay away from anything that could potentially fall on you. If it's a strong enough earthquake, it could probably cause you to fall over pretty easily. I would think that the shaking if strong enough could cause you to crash."

If you're riding a motorcycle...

"If an earthquake strikes while a motorcyclist is out riding, they may not even notice it at first since it may feel like a flat tire or other mechanical issue," said Rob Gladden, vice president of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. "So first, is it an earthquake, and then they can use the same techniques that they would use if they think they have a flat tire to slow down carefully. In that case, they may not want to use too much braking. Maybe let the engine decelerating take it over."

If you're on a bus...

"You want to stay on the bus unless you're instructed otherwise by the bus operator," said LA Metro spokesman, Dave Sotero. "You don't want to go outside if there's dangers on the streets with falling objects. The bus operator will stop at the first available area that's safe. He's going to stop away from any over passes, tall buildings, electric wires or other hazards. His goal is to get everybody in a safe location and then await our bus operations control center to determine what the next steps would be."

If you're on a train...

"If you're riding the underground system, you may not even be aware that an earthquake is taking place, so it's going to become very important that if you are in a station or in a train that you listen for operator instructions and he or she will advise on what to do in that case," said LA Metro's Dave Sotero. "For an earthquake that takes place on the rail system, we have sensors in place that will automatically alert our operators that an earthquake is underway and our emergency procedures will immediately take effect."