Thursday, October 15, 2009

Driving Defensively In CA

Here's the story from the Auburn Journal:

By about 1 p.m. Tuesday, Mike Sanders was driving out to his sixth tow call in five hours.

Sanders, a tow truck operator for Foresthill Towing in Auburn, was on Interstate 80 with his wrecker to pull out Sue Smead’s Ford F-250 pickup, which had spun out on an onramp and was facing oncoming traffic.

“It’s a little bit higher,” Sanders said of the volume of calls he’s received Tuesday.

Sanders and Smead were not alone in their roadway troubles.

A storm that brought heavy wind and rain caused multiple roadway accidents and spinouts that kept emergency responders and road crews busy all day.

“I think people need to realize that you can’t necessarily drive the speed limit when it’s pouring down rain like this,” said Officer David Martinez, CHP spokesman. “This is by far one of the worst days of the year.”

Martinez said oil that’s been layering on the roadways during the dry months is now making roads extra slick with the heavy downpour.

Martinez said officers responded to multiple calls of vehicles spinouts and fender benders.

Smead’s accident was one of several spinouts that littered roadway shoulders.

The Christian Valley resident said she was driving “very slowly and very carefully” down the Interstate 80 onramp from Elm Avenue when the back end of her truck started to fishtail.

“I made the curve very slowly and it totally spun out,” Smead said. “I was shocked. It was surreal.”

Despite spinning around several times and hitting a concrete wall, Smead escaped without any injuries. Her truck, however, needed to be towed.

As Sanders connected Smead’s truck to his wrecker, big rigs roared by and cars and trucks whizzed past. Sanders said he always keeps an eye on the road when he’s working.

“Really the main thing in a situation like this is to watch your back, especially on the freeway,” Sanders said. “You never take your back away from the traffic.”

Roadway collisions, creek crashes

Emergency responders were inundated with accident calls and reports of downed power lines and trees.

At about 2:30 p.m. five cars collided on Interstate 80 near Horseshoe Bar Road in Loomis. One patient was transported via ambulance for minor injures while others were driven to a nearby park and ride to clear from the scene, Martinez said. Cars were immediately moved to the side of the road following the accident.

At about 3 p.m. on Highway 49 and Lonestar Road, a group of people escaped their sinking car after it ran off the road and landed in a creek. No injuries were reported, Martinez said.

Watch out on Wednesday

Martinez reminded residents to take their time Wednesday when driving on local roadways. While the storm is expected to diminish in strength, road conditions will still be problematic.

Drivers should put more space between themselves and the car in front of them, Martinez added.

“You’ve got to drive defensibly in these types of weather conditions,” Martinez said. “Don’t be in a rush (Wednesday). Just take your time.”

Jenifer Gee can be reached at

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