CHP brings in special unit to cut down on Grapevine crashes

KBAK/KBFX photo, file

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) – While semitruck crashes and hazmat spills have become something to expect on the Grapevine section of Interstate 5, the California Highway Patrol has recently grown concerned over just how often these truck-related crashes are happening.

They are now narrowing in on noncompliant trucks and passenger vehicles as potential culprits and are hoping the addition of a specialized unit can help keep things trucking.

From 2016 to 2017, the CHP reports hazmat spills jumped 66 percent and the time lanes were closed more than doubled.

The CHP says a crash on the Grapevine is not easy to deal with, requiring extensive maneuvering and cleanup. Examining an area can also result in a complete highway shutdown or lane closures, especially if the truck is carrying a load that can demand the attention of hazmat workers.

To help combat the problem, the agency has brought on an expert who is specialized in this area. Officer Elena Demarah will be scoping I-5 to make sure truckers are staying in check when it comes to their tire pressure, brakes, weight and other elements that could greatly impact trucks as they head downhill.

Demarah will also be maintaining a vigilant eye on cars to make sure they are not adding to the commotion and exacerbating the pressure already present on truck drivers. Demarah will be operating what’s called a moving scales unit.

The CHP says truckers might not be happy about having a unit focused on them, but they believe having an extra pair of eyes will keep all parties involved on their toes and hopefully lead to smoother travels on the Grapevine.

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