Interstate 80 is known as a busy East Bay freeway, the road to Reno and Tahoe. But it's much more than that, stretching more than 2,900 miles across the U.S. from California to New Jersey. For the coming week, it will be a law enforcement gauntlet.
The CHP says a national study shows an increase in traffic fatalities on 80 in the summer vacation months. And that gave the Iowa State Patrol an idea. "Fifty-two percent of the fatalities were not wearing seatbelts and when Iowa looked at these numbers cumulatively, they decided, 'Hey, we can do something about this,'" said CHP Officer Elon Steers.
What they did about it is now a coast-to-coast, week-long crackdown beginning July 24, focusing on the problems that lead to avoidable fatalities. Topping the list is not wearing seatbelts. In California, fatalities on 80 break down this way: 30 percent are atrributed to not wearing a seatbelt, 27 percent are alcohol-related, 22 percent are speed-related, and 4 percent result from distracted driving.
Across the country on 80, law enforcement is putting extra resources into trying to bring down those numbers and save lives. "You're focused on where you want to get. Once in a while, you'll check the speedometer if you're cruising, but on Highway 80, it's kind of tough to do that," said. "It's always busy."
"California is among the highest in seatbelt compliance and for that reason we've made great progress in reducing fatalities, particularly those related to seatblets," said Steers.