The California Highway Patrol (CHP) conducted a Major Corridor Enhanced Primary Collision Factor Enforcement Campaign on November 17th, in an effort to curb the number of crashes on Hwy 395. The campaign targeted the stretch of highway in Modoc, Lassen, and Plumas Counties.
According to Plumas News:
In 2018 and 2019, a total of 255 crashes occurred on US-395, in Modoc, Lassen, and Plumas counties, causing 143 injuries and killing a total of eight people. The primary causes for most of the injury and fatal crashes were determined to be speeding, reckless driving, unsafe lane change, unsafe turning movement, following too close, distracted driving, and driving under the influence, with increased injuries and deaths from occupant restraint violations.
While the data for the number of this year’s accidents is not yet known, the chances are good that the number of accidents remains high for a number of reasons.
First, Hwy 395 is 557 miles long, and much of it is flat and straight – ideal conditions for losing track of one’s speed or daydreaming. Of course, there are some drivers who purposely put the pedal to the medal, and others who are distracted by any number of things: text messages, passengers, viewing the landscape, etc. It makes sense that this part of the highway, therefore, would see increased numbers of speeding, distracted, and otherwise negligent drivers.
Second, Hwy 395 is an undivided, two-lane highway – one of the most dangerous types of roadways there is. Drivers may be more likely to pass improperly on a two-lane road, and the shoulders are often smaller, if there are shoulders at all. This can increase the risk of a head-on collision, one of the deadliest types of car crashes there is.
Third, there has been an overall increase in speed-related crashes and fatalities since the start of 2020. Fewer vehicles on the road left many people believing they had free reign to speed as much as they wanted, with litter fear of consequences. Last year, “from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, CHP issued 4,851 citations for speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour. That represents a 93% increase compared to the same time period last year, according to CHP data.”
Finally, the section of Hwy 395 being targeted runs right through the areas most affected by the wildfires. The Doyle Fire, Caldor Fire, Trinity County Fires, Dixie Fire, and Tamarack Fire all burned near Hwy 395, with the Dixie Fire actually jumping the road in Janesville, in Lassen County. The fires could have affected the stability of the road itself (this remains to be seen), which could also lead to fatal or injury-causing crashes.
How can I stay safe while traveling on Highway 395 in California?
While you cannot control the actions of other drivers, there are some things you can do to stay safer on roads like Hwy 395.
- Wear your seatbelt. Almost half of all traffic fatality victims are not properly restrained. In the event of a crash, a seat belt can prevent you from going through the windshield, hitting your sternum on the steering column, or slumping underneath an airbag, which can lead to suffocation. Always buckle up.
- Get a designated driver. In 2019, 28% of traffic fatalities involved drunk drivers. Staying sober behind the wheel is a critical component to staying safe. Call a cab or a rideshare, get a designated driver, or stay put for the evening.
- Turn your phone off. Texting and driving is a leading cause of distracted driving accidents. If you cannot turn your phone off, at least turn on the “do not disturb” feature so you reduce your risk of being distracted.
- Do the speed limit. The temptation to speed can be great, especially on the open road, but it is dangerous for so many reasons. You may be unable to stop quickly enough to avoid a collision, or may be forced to swerve into those small road shoulders. It is especially dangerous at night, when you cannot see far enough ahead of you – even with headlights – to avoid unexpected debris or wildlife.
If you are injured by a speeding, distracted, or otherwise reckless driver, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP is here to help. Our Los Angeles car accident attorneys have the skills, experience, and resources to handle your claim, and to fight back against the insurance companies. Please call our office today at 310.474.1582 or complete our contact form to learn more about what we can do for you.
With more than 25 years’ experience as a trial lawyer, Partner Patrick McNicholas exclusively represents victims in personal injury, product liability, sexual assault and other consumer-oriented matters, such as civil rights, aviation disasters and class actions. Learn more about his professional background here.