The two-lane stretch of Highway 12 between Lodi and Fairfield has always been a dangerous one. Last week alone there were five major accidents on the two-lane road. Three people lost their lives.

In part because of the recent fatalities, the California Highway Patrol is once again putting maximum enforcement on Highway 12, where fines can be doubled for speeders caught exceeding 55 miles per hour.

Veteran CHP officer Gene Mulata, whose primary beat is Highway 12 between Suisun City and Rio Vista, said the problem is simply unsafe drivers. "These roads are safe," said Mulata. "If you drive the speed limit and maintain your distance, you'll be able to stop and slow down for a hazard up ahead of you."

With radar mounted both front and rear in his patrol car, Mulata spent Monday morning pulling over one alleged speeder after another. Many were from out of the area and unaware of the deadly legacy of Highway 12.

"As soon as I looked down, I said I knew it," said Scott Webster of Napa who was clocked at 72 miles per hour. Webster said he rarely drives Highway 12 but recognizes it's not like a four- lane freeway. "Hey, the law's the law and I know this is a dangerous road," he said.

Mulata said that with narrow or no shoulders on parts of the road, some motorists still drive like Highway 12 is a freeway. "I regularly get people at 70 or 80 miles per hour," he said. The worst offender was stopped going 115 miles per hour. "I impounded his car for a month," Mulata said.

The increased enforcement will last indefinitely, with up to four CHP units dedicated to Highway 12 at any given time.

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