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PLEASE drive carefully and stay safe!

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
Level Contributor
18,212 posts
55 reviews
145 helpful votes
PLEASE drive carefully and stay safe!

Folks, please be alert, careful, and sober, not only on rural roads but wherever you are, whatever the hour or season.

This 5-fatality head-on was not on a fast, brain-numbing stretch of interstate, but on Hwy 120, the rural road between Groveland and the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite.


Both parties involved were fairly local and perhaps even familiar with the road; the cars were 2012s registered in San Jose and Merced – not rentals. Both may have been heading to or from a wonderful time in Yosemite. Now all their lives have been destroyed because one or both cars crossed the center line on Hwy 120.

Newer cars have airbags, but those don’t prevent fuel tanks from exploding in a collision and trapping folks to die an agonizing death. Five people died at the scene, and the two survivors had to be airlifted to the hospital.

It was 6:30 p.m. – was the sun's angle in the west a factor? This is a two-lane rural road but safe for any alert and prudent driver; how fast were they going? Were they sober? Did both cars have lights on? We don’t know any of these things, but folks who have read my posts about Tioga Pass know that I always suggest starting west before the sun is low enough to be a distraction or a safety issue, and to allow time for a leisurely trip to enjoy the sights.

Wrecks like this are all too frequent in various places, and having been a 911 dispatcher for 9 years, they were all too frequent in my career. This one sticks in my mind because I was up there just a few weeks ago and it is such a gorgeous place where such tragedies, in a setting where people go to experience natural beauty and tranquility, seem extra terrible.

Have a safe and enjoyable trip, everyone.

Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
16,559 posts
125 reviews
111 helpful votes
1. Re: PLEASE drive carefully and stay safe!

This is awful. We noticed quite a bit of "drifting" into opposite lanes on curves on that road when up there in the past month (people were also going way too fast).

Level Contributor
2,031 posts
2. Re: PLEASE drive carefully and stay safe!

Indeed, this is a terrible tragedy, a horrible tragedy. But honestly, I am not surprised.

I am (happily) surprised that it does not occur more often due to people *drifting* or downright driving over the center line by a foot or two in and around Yosemite, and then you have many people driving way too fast on these very roads, as LeBiscuit noted above.

I've been there in and around Yosemite, I've seen it time and time and time again, and it blows my mind.

Since when did it become okay to drive over the center line in the face of oncoming traffic? It's okay if your lane is too narrow for you to drive as fast as you want? Oh, I know! It's okay to pass vehicles ahead of you on a double solid line if those ahead of you are going *dangerously slow*! (I think by now we have all seen the video of the motorcycle driver who used that rationale -- that video seems to have gone viral).

I'm usually the driver of our car and I've told my husband to expect me to use the horn a lot although I don't know if opposing traffic can actually hear a car horn. I'm also very aware if vehicles are starting to stack up behind us. I pull over when and where it is safe to do so, usually with the words uttered -- Someone needs to get from Point A to Point B fast! Or of late, to save my breath I only utter - Point A to Point B. My hubby knows what I mean.

Safe travels for everyone! Like they told us in Driver's Ed in high school way back when --



Edited: 2:47 pm, October 29, 2015
3. Re: PLEASE drive carefully and stay safe!

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