by Geghard Arakelian
The number of fatal collisions in the Angeles Crest Highway have been going down throughout the years according to a California Highway Patrol official.
For the first six-months of 2003 there were six fatalities on Angeles Crest Highway. In 2004, during the same six-month period, there were four fatal accidents that took place in the highway. As of this year there were two fatal accidents, said Capt. Vince Bell, a spokesperson of the CHP. “They [fatal accidents] seem to be down significantly this year. We like to think that our enforcement has an effect on it,” he said.
Motorcycle accidents in the Angeles Crest Highway have also gone down, said Bell.
“Most of the fatalities have been motorcycle fatalities, that is true, up on Angeles Crest Highway, and it’s not the same everywhere else,” said Bell.
A significant number of the citations given out on the highway are also received by motorcyclists.
“We get a lot of complaints that we are singling out motorcyclists, but we are not singling them out ... we are singling out those who are breaking the law,” said Bell.
According to Bell, most of the motorcycle collisions, along with vehicle collisions, occur due to vehicles driving over the wrong side of the road and meeting head-on with opposing traffic. This usually occurs due to the speed of a vehicle, which forces the driver to drive into the inner lane to get through a road bend or curve.
Bell has attributed most of the success for the lowered rate of fatal collisions to a traffic safety corridor grant in the late 1990s that allowed the CHP to bulk up their enforcement and provided for road improvements.
“When the project started it was a one-year project. It [the project] was so successful that it was extended for a second year, which is very rare. We were very fortunate at the time,” said Bell.
Having more police enforcement on Angeles Crest allowed the CHP to research the best methods of enforcing traffic laws; some of which included testing out a zero tolerance policy which proved effective, or studying how roads effect collisions, said Bell.