I was 16 years old, I had my California drivers license for about one week and decided to take my gifted vehicle out around dusk. At this time, we lived on the Monterey Peninsula near the coast. My friend recommended I add fog lights to my car, and I agreed thinking it made the car look cool. Mind you, we never really had a fog issue in our area.
I started driving on an old service road and it got a little foggy. As I approached a bridge on this road near the Pezzini Artichoke Farm the fog immediately became so dense I could barely see 10 feet in front of me. For some reason I did not panic. I slowed down dramatically and wondered if I should pull over to let the fog pass; that would have seriously worried my parents because this was pre-cell phone days.
All of a sudden, I remembered the cool fog lights my friend installed, flipped them on, and they gave me a significant amount of distance and field of vision. This was my first encounter with a version of fog. I have no idea why fog lights are not a thing today; Tule Fog in the Central Valley is a serious driving condition.
To my new commuting friends, Tule Fog is a thing! It’s very dense fog and presents a tremendous danger to unsuspecting drivers. Again, I have countless horror stories on this topic, but my main goal is awareness of the unfamiliar.
Should one drive into Tule Fog, my first advice is dramatically reducing your speed. As you drive in total white fog surrounding your vehicle, objects may possibly appear out of nowhere. Cross-highway traffic is where most serious incidents occur. Overconfident drivers rear-ending vehicles is another huge concern. Consider this: an accident may have occurred, and you could further add to that unfortunate incident because of fog density.
My second bit of advice is finding your inner place of calm. Many injuries occur in accidents because the body tends to become tense. As you travel, pay strict attention to the road but relax. If you are spiritual, you may need to call on that higher being for inner calm.
My third bit of advice involves technology. Make sure your GPS is activated to display the road you can no longer see. Even as a frequent flyer of said road, the mind plays orientation tricks in Tule Fog. I recommend setting up this device in a position which allows navigation while keeping your road view top of mind. Yes, many have driven off the road in Tule Fog, but these experienced gems are helpful.
To round out the tips, never use your high beams. White light on white fog and you’ll have zero visibility. In super severe fog, hazard lights can prevent a rear- end incident. It all sounds scary but take the advice of veteran commuters and you will be fine. Safe travels my commuting Friends!