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CHP wants better-behaved drivers on Hwy. 76

The California Department of Transportation District 11 annual media update March 3 addressed planned improvements to road projects but also provided a California Highway Patrol presentation on improving road safety through driver behavior.

Gary Dominguez, the chief of the California Highway Patrol’s Border Division, noted that the CHP duties include public education as well as enforcement of traffic laws.

“The CHP has a unique role in transportation,” he said. “The element that we play a part in is the human element.”

Speed enforcement is one aspect of traffic law enforcement, although the focus is on behavior which would endanger others.

Dominguez compared construction zones to school zones due to vulnerable workers in construction zones.

“We need to maintain that consciousness and awareness for the people working out on those freeways,” he said.

The need for attentive behavior is increased in tough economic times, when deferred maintenance on automobiles leads to more breakdowns and lower gas tank reserves cause more motorists to run out of gas.

The CHP’s duties include helping those stranded motorists. “The CHP has a goal of service being number one,” Dominguez said. “We intend to be there to provide the highest level of service.”

Excessive speed is not the only unacceptable behavior. In the seven months prior to the media update, approximately 4,400 citations were issued in San Diego County for use of cell phones while driving.

Exceeding the statutory speed limit – and other distractive behavior – is tolerated least on curvilinear two-lane highways such as State Route 76, State Route 67, and State Route 94.

“You’ve got to operate that car with your full concentration,” Dominguez said. “You’ve got to pay attention, slow down, follow the signs.”

Because of the possibility of crossing a two-lane road and causing a head-on collision, a motorist must not only drive slow enough to stay on his or her side of the road but must also keep a safe distance between the vehicle in front.

“If you try to pass or speed to gain five or ten minutes, you’re putting yourself at risk as well as anybody else in the car,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez noted that the two-lane highways differ from freeways or even four-lane US Highways which in many other states have speed limits higher than the 55 mph standard for two-lane highways.

“In these congested areas there’s just too much happening,” he said.

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