Sunday, May 15, 2005

It's called Fog City for a reason

This morning, I got an early start (for the weekend, that is) to the gym. I dropped a friend off at the airport a little after 10am and was headed for Pacifica. As I pulled off of 280 onto Highway 1, the wind and fog picked up noticeably. At the crest of the hill, I pulled into the left hand lane, ready for my normal swooshing back and forth on the curvy highway. I noticed that the motorcycle in front of me (50 feet and one lane over), did a slight jog to the left and a thought occurred to me: Uh-oh...driving fast, fog is limiting my (and other's) vision...what happens if this motorcylce bit it and I swung to miss, crashed and then got rear-ended again and again by drivers ignorant of the conditions?

No sooner had this thought exited my head that I noticed some cars ahead in my lane that were not moving...and another truck in the right breakdown lane in front of them. The little car in front of me slammed on its brakes and came to a stop behind the van and car that had been in (I presumed) a little mishap. I was able to slide towards the left side of the left lane, just behind the little car in front of me. The motorcycle decided to pull over to the far right behind the truck in the breakdown lane. The car driving behind me slide in between everyone and went through the accident scene unharmed.

Now I had the please of watching the action unfold behind me thru my rear-view window. Cars approached around the curve at 60-70 mph, saw us sitting there and had to decide what to do. The first up was an SUV, driving in my lane, it swerved into the right land (phewww!!! missed me!!!), but then saw the motorcycle and swerved farther. BIG MISTAKE!!! To the right was an earthen embankment and the SUV catapaulted up, did a little pirouette at the top and landed (miraculously) on all 4 tires and slowly edged further, around some trees before coming to a stop behind a guardrail facing the accident. The driver seemed okay, though obviously shaken up.

The initial truck in the brakedown lane decided to put itself into reverse and drive backwards up the hill (to alert others of the accident, I think). Meanwhile, I continue to watch behind me as cars slam on their brakes and guide themselves through the one available lane. I keep hoping for a break in traffic long enough for the little car in front of me (I can't get around it) to make a move and get the hell out of bulls-eye land. Finally it moves forward, though I have to wait as another barrage of autos panic, swerve and slide around us.

Finally, I make it around and drive past the accident. Ahead I see flares...first of the left, then on the right...more slalom driving! A Mustang was smashed up in front of a police car and was about to be towed away. What did it hit? In about a mile I found out...there were two more magled cars that drove off the highway into the local Safeway parking lot and the drivers were speaking with a police officer.

Boy, did I feel lucky! The whole time, all I wanted to do was get around those two cars. I've read too many stories about 40 or 50 car pileups on California highways...and I'd prefer not to be part of the story.

So...now it's time for a little PSA, courtesy of the California DMV:

DRIVING IN THE FOG

The best advice for driving in the fog is DON’T. You should consider postponing your trip until the fog clears. However, if you must drive, then drive slowly and use your low beam headlights. The light from high beams will reflect back and cause glare. Never drive with just your parking or fog lights.

Increase your following distance and be prepared to stop within the space you can see ahead. Avoid crossing or passing lanes of traffic unless absolutely necessary. Listen for traffic you cannot see. Use your wipers and defroster as necessary for best vision.

If the fog becomes so thick that you can barely see, pull completely off the road. Do not continue driving until you can see better. Turn off your lights or someone may see your taillights and drive into you.

1 comment:

juniper said...

Eee. be careful!!!