Drivers, CHP brace for ugly commute

January 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
On Tuesday, the wet weather made for a mess on the roads. Drivers around the Bay Area were spinning out, crashing into guardrails, and into each other.

The California Highway Patrol has a warning about what Wednesday morning's commute may bring. The rain may have a few breaks, but the wet pavement remains dangerous. There is common sense advice that may come in handy for trying to avoid serious accidents. The CHP says do not follow cars and trucks too closely, stay off your cell phone, and slow down.

The rain seemed to let up only for a few hours on Tuesday afternoon, but the destruction it left behind never did. On the second day of this winter storm, it seemed no area escaped accidents.

A SUV overturned near Pittsburg, a spinout happened near Lafayette, one car was stuck in the mud in Emeryville, and a family in Oakland were the victims of a hit and run accident on Interstate 880. The driver clipped the back of their minivan, sending them ricocheting into guardrails and a big rig. They still felt very lucky to not have a more serious accident.

"This wasn't no fender bender, this was something that could have cost me and my family all our lives," said hit and run victim Arian Hay, from Oakland.

It all boiled down to job security for the highway patrol.

"Generally speaking, when the rain comes in we see an exponential increase in calls for service, sometimes double, sometimes triple, and sometimes quadruple it," said CHP Officer Sam Morgan.

However, on Tuesday there were even more. At 6:50 in the morning, Bay Area CHP officers juggled 74 accidents at once. Even in weather like this, it is an astronomical number.

"It's not a complex concept to simply slow down," said Morgan.

The advice is to slow down, keep your eyes on the road, and staying off the cell phone. Tom Enos from Alameda learned the hard way after he was stopped by the CHP for talking on his cell phone without a hands-free device.

"It was the wrong thing to do. I admit it," said Enos.

Those that were out there on Tuesday picking up the pieces are now bracing for what the next day will bring.

When asked if he was ready for it, Steve Simonson, a tow truck driver from Ken Betts Tow said, "Yeah. I'm ready, ready to take care of business."

We have all heard the advice so many times during wet weather, but it is important to remember to not follow other vehicles too closely, stay off the cell phone so you can have your hands free and react quickly, and slow down on the wet pavement.