Wednesday Jan 27 2010
Don’t forget Highway 193 is a country road
By: Carol Feineman, Editor
I used to get a thrill driving picturesque Highway 193. I thought the ride from Lincoln to Auburn and back was fun. Lately, though, I wish I could put on a suit of armor every time I drive on Highway 193. Besides worrying about deer and small animals unexpectedly running into the road, I now worry about humans who drive as if we’re at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We’re not, though. We’re in Placer County, talking about Highway 193, a roughly 10-mile winding country road with one lane going in either direction. At least half the ride consists of blind curves and hairpin curves where you can’t even tell if a car is coming toward you. But that doesn’t stop other drivers from tailgating me the entire 10 miles, even around the curves. And some unthinking motorists even turn their bright lights on at night when they’re only mere inches from my car’s taillights, making it a challenge to see what’s ahead. Along with wanting an armor suit to protect me from these offensive drivers, I wish I had a flashing sign on my back window telling others to slow down and turn off the bright lights. Obviously, Highway 193 scares me. I began to realize just how dangerous it could be when a baby deer popped out of the woods two months ago and crushed my car’s dashboard and front bumper on another dangerous country road, Highway 49. In spite of knowing how unsafe these country roads can be, that didn’t prevent me last week from pushing the speed limit during a Highway 193 trip to Auburn. I was 15 minutes late to a meeting so I figured I could just this once throw caution away. Even though the rain was falling hard and the wind was blowing hard. It wasn’t a good day to be on the roads, much less in a car. Yet I pumped the gas pedal as I watched the clock and calculated how many minutes I had before my meeting. That it was Highway 193 didn’t enter into the equation when I thought of my job responsibilities piling up for the day. I even became irritated when two drivers going the other direction dimmed their lights. I figured they were warning me to slow down because cops were giving tickets ahead. Then a half mile later, I saw a car with the top smashed in and two ambulances pulling up. A tree had fallen into the car’s roof and trapped the driver. It took someone else’s misfortune to remind me that anything can happen on Highway 193. The California Highway Patrol “conducts a lot of speed enforcement” on Highway 193, according to public information officer David Martinez. “It’s very dangerous with people speeding there. Quite frequently, big rigs get stuck there,” Martinez said. “People going around curves at 45 mph-plus have no escape routes. Bite the bullet and maintain your speed when people are tailgating. Don’t submit to peer pressure. Just because someone’s behind me, I’m not going to go faster and risk myself.” Good advice to remember, especially considering there were six traffic collisions, two of them with injuries and three of them involving DUI drivers since December on Highway 193, according to Martinez. I can’t control deer from unexpectedly running across the road. However, I can control my own driving speed and hope that other motorists eventually get the message. “All you can do is slow down when you see those curves. You need as much reaction time as possible in case a hazard is around the corner,” Martinez stressed. I asked Martinez for more Highway 193 advice during this rainy, adverse weather we’re experiencing. “It’s OK to drive slower than the speed limit so it’s comfortable and safer,” Martinez replied. “And when using windshield wipers, remember headlights need to be turn on. It’s the law.” I liked hearing Martinez’s advice. It’s going to make me enjoy driving again on Highway 193.