TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker and becoming a Supporting Member. For more info: Support TMC
Start a Discussionhttps://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/tags/

Pacheco Pass and Highway 152/156

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by Ulmo, Jul 13, 2017.

  1. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    2,512
    Location:
    Vienna Woods, Aptos, California
    #1 Ulmo, Jul 13, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
    My first long distance trip since selling my Tesla was in a damn ICE, driving out East Monday afternoon, and driving back Monday night and Tuesday morning. I was witness to a few disorderly situations that night coming back West on Highway 152; one was on Pacheco Pass, when I was going West and the problem was East, on their uphill side of the road before the reservoir. I faintly saw a truck tow truck (one of those big beasts of a tow truck meant for towing large trucks) pulling what looked like in the dark without time to examine (due to me driving) to be a shell of a cab and something behind it like a drive shaft sticking diagonally up in the air for 20 feet. It made no sense.

    Then, later, I saw a parade of about 40 ambitious angry-seeming trucks fully utilizing both lanes coming up the hill suddenly and in high numbers; they were going at a good clip. Given the physics there (100% uphill for them all starting from a complete standstill), most of them must have been empty or have had some amazingly strong engines and transmissions to be going as fast as they were, side by side no less. There aren't any hybrid trucks yet, are there? That would help explain that, but since they aren't in use to my knowledge, I can only assume the empty or extreme engine+trans strength explanations.

    Then, I saw what seemed to be a parade of heavy and wide loads, stopped in the uphill lanes where no truck should ever be stopped in normal operation, especially a heavy load. My mind started fixating on this for a whole day. What happened: the lead car in the heavy load convoy slowed down, the lead heavy truck honked (unable to leave gear in any sort of normal way), and the lead car had an attitude and stopped, then the lead truck snapped its gear, started rolling backwards, tried to arrest the roll with brakes which didn't work, the next heavy vehicle behind stopped and went into reverse, and smashed the truck behind it causing the shell truck? My mind wandered into all sorts of situations, many of them blaming the lead car for murder. Another possible scenario was an unprofessional fleet manager lying on affidavit of the properness of equipment for a job, and specified trucks that would snap under those load conditions (heavy vehicles pulling overweight loads up hill); I would blame him. Another scenario was a truck driver who wasn't professional enough for carrying overweight loads uphill; I would blame both the driver and the person who dispatched him, since they aren't qualified. The worst combination of that would have been all three situations at once. Or maybe the truck mechanics failed in a nonfatal way, but the driver behind had the problems, or fell asleep, or was trying to text (mostly impossible there due to no signal).

    For all I know, in the dark, the tow truck was hauling some regular load that was weird looking in shadows, and all that happened in the heavy convoy was a breakdown, and no one was hurt. But, it was some sort of problem, because law enforcement were coming; at least two -- one stuck in traffic behind the problem (he could have gotten there faster walking), and another coming in hot from the Gilroy side later when I was further down (by all rights, emergency response needed to be from the Los Banos side, since the traffic blocked their rapid approach from the Gilroy side; this way of jurisdictional responding on the side of the mountaintop line with the problem is stupid in these full-lanes-blocked situations). After the accident was maybe a hundred or two trucks lined up stopped waiting in both lanes up the hill. A few cars were scattered into the mix, waiting.

    I was dealing with that as contemplation thought, when in the area approaching Gilroy between the swamps and the foothills (past the San Felipe sign somewhere) I saw a rented Enterprise straight truck decide to leave the highway abruptly rightward, and go over what I imagine was a 3 foot drop and a 5 foot hump, bounce his truck around, and end up stopped (but truck standing up) perpendicular to the highway 2 seconds after the abrupt turn, opening his door to the view of a tree where another lane should have been from his regular driving perspective. I wonder if he had some sleep situation, had a flat tire, or reacted to something I didn't see (I don't recall anything in the lanes that would have been a problem, although that doesn't rule out a dashing animal).

    My imagination decided that the heat in the Central Valley (near 110º that prior day and week) was enough to keep people in neighborhoods where anybody didn't have air conditioning awake all night (especially with the high temperature of high density housing with all the absorbing heat radiation materials like roads and concrete), and that probably added to a summer of a lot of overtime and industrial traffic plus a few unprofessional drivers who didn't have much time or desire to sleep that week.

    I have searched for these accidents on the web at least 3 times since then. There is no mention of them. I saw many articles of dead people on Highway 152, both before and after, including a sad one where 2 died trying to enter the highway down in the flat area of the valley since that night.

    It is then that I came across this writing by a truck driver, and I just wanted to share it. While I think following the tail lamps of a vehicle in fog is safer than the same speed without following tail lamps (the lamps let you see what is between you and them by omission (interruption of the lamps, which requires you to stay fixated on them), and also see what is going on ahead by the behavior of those tail lamps, giving you more information with which to drive and allows for a higher speed than having no tail lamps ahead), the rest of his article is apt and appropriate. I think it's a good read for any Highway 152 driver who is somehow forced to ponder the meaning of life and driving on that road. Hopefully it keeps someone awake enough to pull off safely.

    One nice thing about rural areas is that it's fairly easy to find a place to safely pull off and take a 27 minute nap (the same cannot be said for urban areas with "rush" hour stop and go traffic on freeways, and I'm still trying to figure that one out). Once pulled off, tell Siri to set an alarm in 27 minutes (someone told me that's what the studies said is optimal) when you pulled over, and konk out; when your iPhone alarms, you'll be ready to get up and go; get up, take a quick walk around if prudent, then focus on how awake you are until the next time you have to pull off, hopefully closer to a bed. If you oversleep the 27 minute alarm, you needed to, and it's OK. If it wakes you up, you'll be good to go for at least another minute or half hour or hour or so, maybe longer.

    California’s "Haunted" Highway | SkepticReport
     
  2. dhcp

    dhcp Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2016
    Messages:
    287
    Location:
    San Mateo, CA
    I drove that 152 route every month both directions for years. There is some spooky stuff along that route.

    The worst fog I've ever seen in my life was along that route. It sneaks up suddenly but one time it was so bad - and I'm no exaggerating at all, I couldn't see a few feet past the hood of my car and it was completely terrifying and went for at least 20 miles this thick.

    Despite this, I was passed by semi trucks easily doing 60 or 70mph in this fog. There is no possible way they could see a stopped car in front o fhem with enough time to be able to stop in time. Even if a car was crawling along at 30mph like many of us were, these trucks were like a freight train, just flying. It was completely terrifying. Definitely, the scariest time I've ever had driving.

    During the 1990's I remember the "Tule" fog (sp?) not far from there, closer to Sacramento. I swear there were over 200 cars that were piled up in that crash. I can't find that reference but even recently there was a 108 car pile-up. It's insane with the fog in these central valley areas:

    108 Vehicles in California Fog Crash | EMS World
     
  3. cpa

    cpa Active Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2014
    Messages:
    1,564
    Location:
    Central Valley
    Yeah, Pacheco Pass has a history unto itself. San Luis Reservoir took out some of the original routing of the highway, so the road was rerouted north to its existing alignment. The entire highway was two lanes in those days. We are fortunate that the road ultimately was made four lanes from the 152/156 junction east.

    Yes, the tule fog can be a real nightmare from November through late winter. And, yes, there were times long ago that drivers would have to drive about 10MPH at night with their driver side door open in order to see the lane lines and keep on the pavement. At least so the story goes from some of the old timers I knew who lived in the country.

    Too many people drive too fast in foggy conditions, and the result is utter chaos.
     
    • Informative x 1
  4. thecloud

    thecloud As rhythm raced inside, the ship came alive

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    1,042
    Location:
    Sunnyvale, CA
    Are you thinking of this pileup on I-5 at Coalinga in 1991? That's the big one I remember, since I was driving between LA and SF about every other weekend. Tule fog is deadly since people don't slow down for it, and suddenly there's zero visibility out the windshield. There were over a hundred vehicles involved in that crash, not 200. There was also this one in 1997, not quite as big with 37 vehicles.

    There was even a '70s disaster movie called Smash-Up On Interstate 5, so the lore of deadly freeway stretches was well established even back then.
     
  5. thecloud

    thecloud As rhythm raced inside, the ship came alive

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    1,042
    Location:
    Sunnyvale, CA
    Hmm. Rereading that article, it says that particular incident was due to a dust storm and not Tule fog. The timeframe is right, though.
     
  6. SMAlset

    SMAlset Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2017
    Messages:
    1,065
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Ulmo you sold your MS60? Buying another one?

    Back maybe 10-15 years ago we were considering buying out in Los Banos because we couldn't "win" an auction for a house we liked in the Bay Area. Almost made the move but didn't. That Tule fog is a scary thing and can't imagine having to drive in it, let alone do so on a regular basis. Once in Illinois I encountered late at night a similar situation where the area had a lot of standing water around the roadway and the fog was so dense you were afraid to almost move at all and not knowing if you were still on the road even. I was also afraid to be stopped and get hit out of nowhere. I heard the drought had kept the Tule at bay around Los Banos for a few years but with so much rain this past year I imagine it's a factor again during moister conditions. I recall hearing years ago that they flooded the lower areas for duck hunting so sure the standing water in vast spans of land contributed to low-lying fog in the right conditions.
     

Share This Page