Fog has big rig drivers on heightened alert

FRESNO, Calif.

The thick fog rolled in Thursday night and is a sure sign of winter here in the Valley. Friday night some big rig drivers say they are easing off the gas this season, but they are concerned about many other drivers who are not.

Driving through the Central Valley isn't always a breeze this time of year. It can be a bit of a stressful situation for truck drivers who must travel through dense Tule fog.

Since time is critical and conditions are dangerous, big rig drivers say they have to be even more defensive when they are hauling heavy loads through the Central Valley.

"Basically I like to slow down, at least give myself 23 seconds," Matt Hoffman said. "I'd like to see at least the headlights or the tail lights in front of me."

Many large scale accidents, like the one in Texas Thursday happen when several chain reaction crashes occur after an initial wreck.

The last major fog related pile up in the Central Valley was in November of 2007. More than 100 cars and big rigs were involved and several people were killed.

CHP Officer Kirk Arnold says the secondary crashes often have similar themes. He said, "You have a collision that occurs and then you have additional vehicles going into the scene at an unsafe speed for conditions, foggy conditions, and now you have a chain reaction type collision."

Friday as Fahe Alawi pulled out of Fresno bound for Arizona, then Texas, he said foggy conditions were his biggest concern.

Alawi said, "Scary, today is my first day driving in the fog and it's too scary."

Zijad Alibasic just pulled in from the port of Oakland to pick up a load in Del Rey. He says he's planning on adding some extra time to get to his next destination because of the white out.

Alibasic said, "Maybe if it's 55, I drive 50 or 45."

As a truck driver who travels across the country, Hoffman says he's constantly scanning traffic for other drivers who aren't as cautious, and haven't seen the tragedies he has on the road.

"A lot of people out here are just driving way too fast," Hoffman said. "I've seen several accidents yesterday in Chicago and it's just driving too fast for conditions."

Truck drivers we talked to Friday said fog ranks among the least liked driving conditions, along with dust storms.

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