The CHP is stepping up driver safety enforcement on Highway 1 in northern Santa Barbara County south of Lompoc after three deadly head-on crashes in the span of a week along the same stretch of highway.
A ride-a-long with the CHP Buellton Area office down the stretch of Highway 1 where the deadly collisions happened provided an up close, front seat passenger perspective on the three-pronged plan of enforcement, engineering and education to make the highway as safe as possible for everyone.
In a span of eight days, three people were killed in three separate head-on crashes along the same stretch of Highway 1 near Jalama Road south of Lompoc.
The CHP has stepped up patrols with greater visibility in the area and next month will add patrols by aircraft.
“We have increased patrols in the morning and night around commute hours”, said CHP Sgt. Eric Zivic, “having officers make stops, educating the public on the traffic laws, trying to reduce speed to make it safer for drivers.”
The engineering component includes safety enhancements on the highway itself.
“We’re working with Caltrans, they just re-surfaced the roadway, we want to make sure the rumble strips are installed in the center line and on the shoulders for fatigued drivers, if they start drifting off the roadway, that they’ll be alerted that they need to get back in their lane”, Sgt. Zivic said.
As for driver education, electronic traffic signboards and radar trailers have been set up along the highway to alert drivers of speed, the need to stay alert, have a sober driver and to put the cell phone down and drive.
“If people are paying attention, if they are following the guidelines that are posted along the roadway, the speed limits, staying in their lane, using passing lanes when appropriate, keeping their head up and staying alert”, Zivic added, “it’s not the roadway that’s dangerous, it’s drivers who are not paying attention.”
A spokesperson for Caltrans says there are no immediate plans to make safety improvements on the stretch of Highway 1 that has seen the recent string of fatal accidents.
The spokesperson says Caltrans believes the state highway is safe, as is, as long as the drivers that use it do so in a safe manner.