CHP to increase patrols in Ventura County

By Adam Foxman (Contact)
Monday, April 27, 2009

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In an effort to reduce traffic deaths and injuries, the California Highway Patrol is boosting the number of hours officers spend patrolling roads with a history of fatal collisions.
Working overtime that’s funded by state and national grants, Highway Patrol officers are targeting roadways such as highways 126 and 118, thoroughfares in the Oxnard Plain and mountain roads frequented by recreational motorcyclists, local CHP officials said.
The funds are part of a $3.5 million grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called the Comprehensive Approach to Reducing Speed, or CARS. Allocations to the Ventura and Moorpark CHP offices total more than $34,000 that will pay for more than 500 hours of overtime.
A significant amount of CHP officers’ overtime is typically funded by grants. The overall number of grant-funded overtime hours for local highway patrol officers remains about the same as last year, local CHP officials said.
Capt. Cliff Williams of the Moorpark CHP said the goal of the effort is to reduce traffic deaths by having more officers to serve as visual deterrents to potential speeders and take action against dangerous drivers.
Of 11 fatal collisions in the Moorpark CHP’s area in 2008, speed was a primary factor in four and driving under the influence was a key in five, Williams said.
In recent months, Moorpark CHP officers focused their overtime patrols on Highway 126, and this summer they will increase their presence on Potrero Road, Williams said.
Once known as “blood alley” because of the frequency of crashes, undivided parts of Highway 126 between Santa Paula and Fillmore have been the site of horrific crashes in recent years. In Oct. 2007, a mother and daughter were killed in a head-on crash on the roadway, three months after another head-on crash claimed three lives on the same stretch of highway.
On Potrero Road, where curves attract riders of high-performance machines, three motorcyclists have been killed since 2005, Williams said.
The Moorpark CHP is also boosting patrols in the Santa Rosa Valley and Oak Park areas.
Highway Patrol officers will also increase their work on Highway 33 and Highway 150 on Sunday afternoons, said Lt. Casey Cronin of the Ventura CHP.
Two fatal motorcycle accidents have been reported on those winding highways since the beginning of this year, Cronin said.
The Ventura CHP will use the rest of the overtime funded by CARS to increase patrols in the Oxnard Plain area and on Highway 118 west of Lewis Road, the lieutenant said.
Two men were killed and a third was injured in a crash in the Oxnard Plain in March when a driver traveling more than 100 mph blew past a stop sign, went into a ditch and rolled end over end at the edge of Etting Road between Camarillo and Naval Base Ventura County