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Ladera Ranch Residents Seek More Traffic Patrols to Deter Unsafe Driving  .

January 9, 2006  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   

                                                           

CONTACT:

Chuck Gibson

(949) 429-3972

(714) 403-5827

Ladera Ranch Residents Seek More Traffic Patrols to Deter Unsafe Driving

Aggressive driving, including speeding and disregard for traffic laws are top traffic safety issues in Ladera Ranch, according to a recent survey of residents conducted by the Ladera Ranch Transportation Club.  Along with this message, the residents also expressed a strong desire for increased traffic law enforcement.

Ladera Ranch is an ideal community in many ways.  Nonetheless, the community has problems too, including occasional traffic congestion and a rash of aggressive drivers pointing to the need for more traffic enforcement.  This is among findings in the first Ladera Ranch Transportation Club Traffic Issues Survey.

“Aside from the need for more traffic enforcement, the survey informs us on a broad range of issues including specific streets and areas where traffic problems are greatest,” he said.  This can be useful both to law enforcement and to the Club as it determines where to focus its attention, Gibson added.

“This survey shows us is a remarkable level of resident involvement.  Residents of Ladera Ranch are not sitting back waiting for tragic accidents to happen, we are planning to prevent accidents,” said Gibson.

“Perhaps the strongest message we received is that there is an immediate need for more traffic enforcement in Ladera Ranch,” said Chuck Gibson, President of the Transportation Club. 

Even though the Highway Patrol has been diligent and attentive to our community, it is clear we need more traffic enforcement patrols. 

I understand the Sheriff is ready to help the CHP in traffic enforcement.  All that is needed is repeal of an outdated county ordinance that prohibits the Sheriff from initiating traffic enforcement in the unincorporated areas.  Under current county policy and the ordinance, a Sheriff can issue a ticket only if a violation of traffic law is detected incidental to crime patrols. 

On Tuesday, January 10, 2006, the Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to repeal the ordinance that prevents CHP-Sheriffs cooperation in proactive traffic enforcement.  This action would be consistent with best practices in highway safety such as the “Traffic Corridor Initiative,” reported by Joe Farrow, Deputy Commissioner, California Highway Patrol.  He noted that interagency cooperation is the key to that program, which focuses on traffic corridors that need enhanced enforcement and increased public awareness.

Gibson sees a similar situation in the county unincorporated areas where the Sheriff and CHP share patrol responsibilities with the CHP currently responsible for all proactive traffic enforcement.  “Why can’t the same initiative shown in the Traffic Corridors program pertain to the unincorporated areas of the county?” asks Gibson.  Other states have adopted the interagency collaborative approach demonstrated in the Traffic Corridors program. 

“With the repeal of the county ordinance, it will facilitate and encourage interagency cooperation in our county.

Based upon current staffing, the increase in local traffic accidents and information from state budget analysts it seems obvious to me that the Highway Patrol could use some help in beefing up traffic patrols, he added.

We have an outstanding CHP Community Enforcement Officer and a community oriented command staff.  Still, one officer to cover our entire community and surrounding highways seems to be insufficient, particularly in light of recently reported increase in traffic accidents - up at a rate of 12% over last year and a doubling of the rate of DUI’s at 3 for the first six months of 2005. 

While number of accidents relative to community growth appears relatively small at 38 accidents for the entire year of 2005, there are many undetected incidents, including reports from the Traffic Issues Survey and anecdotal reports of near misses that indicate the need for more enforcement,” said Gibson. 

“Cooperation among law enforcement agencies is an important step in the right direction.  Increasing traffic patrols and enforcement can help prevent accident causing behavior.

The need for more proactive traffic enforcement in Ladera Ranch mirrors statewide staffing issues identified by the California Legislative Analyst in her January 31, 2005 review of the CHP - “California Highway Patrol: Enhancing Road Patrol Service through Efficiencies.” 

Traffic patrol officers drive in plain view to reduce reckless driving and they perform other traffic safety services that help reduce accidents.

The Legislative Analyst’s report notes: “The extent of proactive patrolling has declined markedly the past few years.” 

The continuous increase in traffic accidents combined with lower levels of patrols has created a “vicious circle,” according to the Legislative Analyst.  The increase in accident workload lessens opportunities for officers to perform motorist services and enforcement contacts.  This in turn may result in additional accidents.  Absent corrective measures, it is unlikely the CHP’s ability to promote traffic safety will improve, the Legislative Analyst concluded.

“This Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors, by repealing county ordinance Section 6-4-200 can help address a very important community safety issue affecting all the unincorporated areas of our county patrolled by the CHP,” concluded Gibson.

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