Recent studies show California residents leaving big cities and moving into inland valleys. San Francisco and bay area cities like San Jose have seen many families move to areas like Tracy and Los Banos.

Los Banos is now the third fastest growing city in California. This easily translates into quite a few new commuters on Highway 152 from Los Banos and neighboring cities.

For those who have recently moved to Los Banos or Dos Palos and are commuting  across Pacheco Pass, it’s appropriate to provide commuting tips from a person like me who has been doing this commute for many years.

  1. Make sure your vehicle is in good repair and checked at regular intervals. It’s easy to say I’ll check it later after a long commute. A quick check could save the headache of being stranded roadside.
  2. Remember your vehicle is a prized tool, despite make or model. Without it, the idea of commuting is moot.
  3. Never let your tires get down to the wear-bar. The wear-bar is the horizontal rubber line in between the treads.
  4. I also highly recommend tire siping, that is cutting micro-slits into the tire, causing the tire to perform at a higher level than its intended performance. The procedure also causes tires to wear slower, stay cooler and handle better in wet conditions. This service is available at many major tire retailers and worth the extra few dollars
  5. Since we are discussing rubber, never ever let your wipers wear. Replace them at the first sign of streaking. The sun is tough on wipers in the summer. Valley life is much warmer than the bay area. Experienced commuters usually have a winter and summer set of wiper blades.
  6. I emphatically say do not drive on worn brakes, period. At first sign you hear a noise, stopping power changes or your brakes simply do not feel normal, do not commute. Commuting on the grade of Highway 152 relies heavily on breaking, and failure could mean an accident or worse. Please do not take this tip lightly.
  7. Navigation? Hopefully you know your destination; however, experienced commuters usually employ one or two driving apps. CARR or CA Road Report gives you detailed accident information, Caltrans road cams, and other helpful information to help you mentally forecast your commute.
  8. Google maps is a great app. However, Waze is my favorite. Love it or hate it, it’s super helpful in my opinion. Waze gives real time information such as Highway Patrol location, road conditions, your speed and speed limit. It has saved many a speeding ticket and pointed out potholes which can ruin a smooth commute. Realtime information can be updated and shared by others as conditions change.
  9. Never attempt a commute with just enough fuel. An unexpected accident in either direction could have you sitting in traffic for up to two hours biting your nails as your fuel runs low.
  10.  A stash of snacks and beverages are a must for this same reason. Go potty before the start of your trip, and know potential restroom stops just in case.

I hope this information is helpful. Safe travels, my commuting friends.

Rob Robinson