Anyone who has ever had their bank put a hold on their account and not allow them to touch the money in it should be able to identify with a dilemma faced by the California Highway Patrol's Aptos office.
In 2009, the office applied for a grant to create a Safe on State Route-129 Corridor similar to that on Highway 17. Among other things, the program would pay officers over-time to enforce traffic laws on the highway in an attempt to reduce traffic collisions east of Watsonville, particularly at the intersections of Carlton Road, Murphy Road, Rogge Lane and Old Chittenden Road. It also would pay for the CHP's aircraft patrols to enforce traffic laws from above.
Last year, the office was awarded more than $400,000 by the California Office of Transportation but, citing the state's budget woes, an executive order from the governor's office said don't touch it, said officer Sarah Jackson, CHP spokeswoman.
Thus, officers have been doing what they could during their regular work hours to prevent collisions on State Route 129, she said. And it appears their efforts are working. In 2009, the most recent year available, there were 58 collisions along the highway, down from 64 in 2008, according to statistics received from the CHP.
While crashes were on the decline, the number of traffic citations the department was writing were rising. In 2008, CHP officers wrote 367 citations, compared to 581 in 2009 and 577 in 2010, a clear link to the drop in collisions, CHP statistics show. By the way, the brunt of the tickets written, a total of 1301 for all three years combined, were for speed, the main collision factor along SR-129.
While the CHP tries to use its presence to slow traffic down, Caltrans is using its engineering know-how to improve safety on SR-129, said Susana Cruz, Caltrans spokeswoman.
Since 2007, the state transportation agency has:
- Installed center line rumble strips between Watsonville and Highway 101 in San Benito County (2007);
- Realigned the curve between Rogge Lane and Old Chittenden Road (2008);
- Installed a traffic signal at Industrial (2009);
- Placed curve warning signs and a “Slippery When Wet” sign at Old Chittenden(2010).
In the future, Caltrans would like to realign the curve west of Old Chittenden and replace a culvert at post mile 3.5.
Bicyclists behaving better
A new study by the Community Traffic Safety Coalition shows bicyclists are getting better at following the rules of the road.
In its Bicycle Safety Observation Study of 2010, bicyclists' riding habits were observed at 41 locations countywide.
The study found that of the 2,796 cyclists observed:
- Men represented 74 percent of the riders while 26 percent were women;
- Women were more likely to wear helmets than men;
- North County riders had a higher helmet wearing rate than South County riders;
- Eighty-eight percent rode with motor vehicle traffic on the right side of the road;
- Sixty-eight percent stopped at stop signs and traffic lights;
- Twenty-two percent rode on sidewalks.
To read the full study results, including how they compare to previous studies, visit http://www.sctrafficsafety.org/safe_info.html