CHP cracks down on Bay Bridge speeders

November 12, 2009 12:45:34 PM PST
The California Highway Patrol stepped up its enforcement of the speed limit on the Bay Bridge Wednesday night and this morning in response to a series of accidents on the bridge's S-curve, including a dramatic crash Monday that killed a trucker from Hayward.

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CHP officers issued 34 citations for speeding and arrested someone for driving under the influence. The crackdown was carried out between 11 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. today, CHP Officer Herman Quon said.

There have been at least 43 accidents on the S-curve since that temporary section of the roadway was installed over the Labor Day weekend, Quon said.

The worst crash happened early Monday morning when 56-year-old Tahir Fakhar was killed after his big-rig went out of control and toppled over the side of the bridge.

The crash happened as Fakhar drove west on the bridge in a big-rig carrying a load of pears. The truck fell about 200 feet and landed on Yerba Buena Island.

Quon said investigators have looked into that crash and all the others near the S-curve, and "they all pointed to speed as an issue."

In response, the CHP has begun closing the two left lanes on both the upper and lower decks of the bridge during non-commute hours. Extra units have patrolled the span, and patrol cars have been stationed on the bridge to look for speeders.

The speed limit on most of the bridge is 50 mph, but the limit drops to 40 mph on the S-curve, with a maximum of 35 mph recommended on the sharpest curves.

Quon said the desired effect of the tactics "is that you pay more attention to your driving and see the speed limits, get out of your cruise mode, and slow down."

The California Department of Transportation has also recently installed additional safety measures near the S-curve, including extra speed limit signs, reflective striping along the barriers on the roadway's edge, raised bumps between lanes, and a grit covering over a steel portion of the roadway.

In the next few weeks, radar signs will also be installed to show drivers how fast they are going as they pass.

Quon said the CHP will continue stepped-up enforcement indefinitely during non-commute hours, when people are more likely to drive faster on the bridge.

"We have hundreds of thousands of commuters go safely across the bridge every day, but there's just a select few that don't pay attention, and that's who these measures are for," he said.

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