Dear Street Smarts,
Q: I just read the article about the fatal accident on Highway 129 today. I have contacted you about this before but I can’t believe the lack of CHP patrol along this highway. I would really like to see an increase of their officers there. I often see vehicles traveling in excess of the speed limit and passing illegally. I’m a retired law enforcement officer with 34 years of experience – six years with the CHP. So, I know what I’m talking about.
Steve James, Watsonville
A: “We are in the approval process of designating State Route-129 as a safety corridor,” Officer Sarah Jackson, spokeswoman for the California Highway Patrol’s Aptos office said of the winding road that connects Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. “This would provide for increased enforcement, signage, and public education.”
While the agency waits for the extra funding, it is using its current resources to improve safety there as much as possible.
“In 2009, Santa Cruz area CHP Officers wrote 567 citations for speed on SR-129 in Santa Cruz County,” Jackson said. “We wrote 20 citations for crossing over double yellow lines. CHP Officers also investigated 16 fatal collisions in Santa Cruz County in 2009, three of which were on State Route 129.”
The agency has allocated special resources to the highway, she said.
Mobile road enforcement officers in black and white Dodge pick ups have been on patrol. These officers enforce California Vehicle Code regulations as they apply to commercial trucks, also known as big rigs, said Jackson.
What’s more, the CHP’s safety and farm labor vehicle education officer has been working hard to enforce farm labor vehicle safety issues, including making sure farm workers are transported to and from work safely, she said. The officer also provides education on making sure farm labor vehicles are certified and inspected, she said.
“We have also been working with Caltrans to make the necessary roadway modifications to allow for aerial traffic enforcement,” Jackson said.
By the way, “the Santa Cruz area CHP is responsible for over 120 miles of state highway and approximately 600 miles of unincorporated roadway,” Jackson said. “SR-129 represents 9.95 of those highway miles.”
Jackson assures the motoring public that the CHP “is constantly analyzing traffic-related trends and statistics in order to provide the highest level of service in the most effective deployment of resources.”