I drive from the South Bay to Castaic almost every weekend and it used to be not without trepidation. The route up the 405 and 5 was a minefield looking our for cars careening past you clocking a good 20 miles per hour over one's already upper limit of the safe road speed. Big pickup trucks straight out of Mad Max headed towards off road heaven -- the give away is the ATV's in the bed -- and fat tired automobiles doing the Cannonball Run to who knows where. Early bird specials at some Starbucks on Victory Blvd nearest I can tell. I've seen fast weavers literally cut off cops commuting from the training facilities at the Pitchess jail and -- thanks to traffic alert enabled GPS -- avoided far too many fatal accidents on the Sepulveda Pass.
This year things are better. And it's because the Southern Division of the California Highway Patrol has instituted a weekend get tough program to get the Los Angeles County freeway system back ontrack. As the sun rises over SoCal they deploy singly, in pairs, and sometimes three to a spot setting up zones of coverage about every three to five miles. There are radars built into their cars but one of them will stand in the door pointing a hand held laser down the freeway at oncoming cars sending a message to all to heed the rules of the road. And pretty much every speed trap hiding place along the freeway -- and there are a bunch of them -- WILL have a cruiser in it at some point during the day. It's high profile enforcement involving what has to be a huge commitment of people and planning.
It works! Roadway decorum, while never perfect, is far better than 2009. The number of aggresive pick up trucks flashing their lights at you as they muscle their way down the road has dwindled to a trickle and it's not uncommon to see that car on the side of the road down the ways a piece getting written up by California's finest. I've seen my "where's a cop when you need one thought" -- when some single occupant fast mover cuts tightly in front of me into the diamond lane -- rewarded by a patrol car apparating out of nowhere to give that person a richly deserved ticket for crossing the quadruple yellow into whopper fine territory. And you bet you can see the heads of the other drivers on the road bobbling a big "oh yeah" in unison.
I just wanted to thank the CHP for doing this. We do notice. We do talk about it. And I want you to know that some of "the rest of us on the road" appreciate what you are doing.
So have you benefitted from this? Have you been caught by it? Are you changing your driving habits because of it?