COSTA MESA — Weary commuters who depend on Dr. Roadmap's traffic tips on radio or his book on freeway alternatives can now see the good doctor offer advice in the comfort of their living rooms.
Dr. Roadmap is actually David J. Rizzo, who also happens to be a part-time podiatrist. Thousands of Southern California commuters know him simply as Dr. Roadmap, the traffic guru on KABC radio who tells drivers which surface streets to take when the freeways are jammed.
Rizzo, 43, wrote "Freeway Alternates," a guide to commuting in Orange and Los Angeles counties. The book, published in 1990, includes more than 100 pages of detailed maps showing the fastest street routes to take when the freeways are clogged.
Now, the affable Rizzo is selling a 35-minute videocassette that promises to "help you take control of your commuting destiny." The tape sells for $19.95.
Recently, Rizzo explained how he made the transition from a foot doctor--who traveled as many as 200 miles per day making house calls--to a transportation consultant. He practices podiatry nine hours a week but spends most of his weekday mornings in his Santa Ana apartment among radio scanners and road maps, "waiting for the call" from the radio station.
"Sometimes I only get 30 seconds' notice. The station will call me, tell me what and where the problem is and give me 30 seconds to offer a solution on the air," said Rizzo.
Rizzo, who always drives in the slow lane and never faster than 55 miles per hour, said he became interested in traffic consulting when he was putting thousands of miles on his car each month when making house calls from San Bernardino to Dana Point.
"I drive a 1977 Cadillac that has 281,000 miles, and you can almost see every mile on the car," joked Rizzo. "I personally travel every alternate route that I recommend. I've spent a lot of time studying and reading about transportation."
Many of the tips on surviving rush-hour traffic that he offers both in his book and new video are common-sense suggestions, he says. Rather than listening to a favorite rock station or a tape player while driving to and from work, Rizzo recommends keeping the radio tuned to a news station that offers frequent traffic reports.
"You're getting great information for free. It's common sense, but many of us don't follow it," said Rizzo.
He also advises commuters to familiarize themselves with the neighborhoods around their commute routes, "even if you've taken the same trip thousands of times." Study maps of the area, so you will know which surface streets run parallel to the freeway, he said. This way, when the freeway traffic comes to a screeching halt, you can exit and at least keep moving in the right direction.
But Dr. Roadmap conceded that sometimes even he does not follow his own advice.
"Yes, there have been times when I get lulled into a false sense of security that it's OK to take the freeway. When I'm trapped on the freeway, I ask myself, 'Where is Dr. Roadmap when I need him?' " said Rizzo.