CHP crackdown targets speedsters
Lori Consalvo, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/08/2009 02:24:13 PM PDT
Every one has an excuse. "I was running late."
"I have to get to school."
"I wasn't paying attention."
A California Highway Patrol officer has heard them all.
As much as you may not like getting caught, CHP officers said speeding tickets are intended to do more good than harm.
"We see every citation as a chance to save a life," CHP Officer Jeff Briggs said.
During 2008, there were 460 traffic collisions on the 210 Freeway between Baseline and Sierra Avenues, which resulted in two fatalities, according to a CHP news release. Speeding was a common factor in those collisions.
For four hours on Saturday morning, drivers shared the road with additional marked CHP units and
California Highway Patrol Officer Jeff Briggs tracks speeders along the westbound 210 Freeway at the 15 Freeway interchange Saturday morning. (Frank Perez/Correspondent)
a warning road sign that read "speed limit 65 - strictly enforced" during a speed enforcement detail. Instead of the eight to 10 regular patrol officers working a weekend morning, about 18 had their radar out from Claremont to Fontana.
The goal of the detail was to reduce collisions on the 210 by using aggressive enforcement, according to a CHP news release.
There are four ways CHP officers track speed: pacing, visual estimation based on training and experience, Lidar - which can target specific cars and single them out- and radar, Briggs said.
An hour into the detail, while Briggs was parked on the side of the freeway, a Ford F250 truck caught his attention.
The Lidar showed the vehicle was traveling at 82 mph about 1700 feet away. At 923 feet, it was going 83 mph.
A burst of acceleration to catch up to the truck, a quick flick to turn on the patrol car's lights and in a few seconds the truck on the left side of the road.
When Briggs asked him why he was going so fast, the response was typical, "I was just going with the flow of traffic, I didn't know that was wrong."
But Briggs said that misconception can get a driver in trouble.
"As soon as you hit that 66 and above, you're eligible to be stopped," he said.
During the detail, the primary focus is speed, Briggs said. But if CHP officers see anything else - a missing seatbelt, a possible DUI - they'll take the appropriate action.
When he pulled over a Ford Expedition for going 91 mph in the car pool lane, Briggs discovered the driver had a suspended license and no insurance. The vehicle was impounded.
At the end of the detail, CHP officers had written 57 citations, Briggs said. Four vehicles were impounded as a result of impounded drivers.
Details, which are paid for primarily by federal grants, will continue throughout the year as CHP officers work to enforce the speed limit and make the freeways safer, Briggs said.
"A lot of people are in a hurry these days," he said.
To contact the California Highway Patrol and report excessive speeding zones, call 1-800-TELL CHP.