San Diego County's Fatal Freeways - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego County's Fatal Freeways

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According to the California Highway Patrol, more than 300 people were killed on local freeways last year. But one San Diego County freeway was responsible for the majority of those deaths. Before you hit the roads for the Thanksgiving holiday, the CHP shares some important tips to keep you and your family safe along San Diego's freeways.\r\n\r\nLast year, 309 people died on our local freeways, but when you consider that San Diego County has more than 300 miles of freeways and drivers travel literally thousands of miles each day, there's bound to be accidents. But are some freeways more dangerous than others?\r\n\r\n"For the size of the county and the volume of traffic that travels on our freeways, our fatality rate relative to that is actually spread out pretty evenly across the county," said CHP Officer Brad Baehr.\r\n\r\nBut there are definitely some freeways where more deadly accidents happen. Recently, one person died in an accident on Highway 67 in the East County. This is not the first time Highway 67 has been the scene of a deadly accident. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 10 people were killed on Highway 67 in 2005.\r\n\r\nOceanside CHP Officer Tom Kerns says since January of this year, there have been 56 fatal traffic accidents in the North County, some of those along Interstate 5.\r\n\r\n"Because of the speeds people exceed on the I-5 through the Camp Pendleton corridor, we have horrendous crashes," he said.\r\n\r\nLast year, 20 people died in traffic collisions on Interstate 5. But one local official calls State Route 78 between Oceanside and Escondido the most dangerous highway in all of San Diego County. It's not, but fatalities are rising.\r\n\r\nSince January, the CHP reports nine people have died in accidents along the 78. Last year, five people were killed along the heavily traveled stretch of highway.\r\n\r\nBaehr says more cars on freeways mean more accidents.\r\n\r\n"In San Diego County, our freeway systems are extremely busy, we cover 800 accidents a month," he said.\r\n\r\nThe CHP reports that since January, 50 people have been killed in traffic collisions in the greater San Diego area. One freeway that has seen its share of deadly accidents is Interstate 15 from the North County down into San Diego.\r\n\r\n"We have a lot of fatalities out there because people are going extremely fast," Baehr said.\r\n\r\nBut north and southbound lanes of the 15 at Friars Road are often congested. Last year along Interstate 15, 12 people were killed in accidents.\r\n\r\n"Between Interstate 8 and Friar's Road it's extremely busy -- a lot of people changing lanes and going onto the 8," Kerns said.\r\n\r\nAccording to the traffic experts, Interstate 8 had the most fatalities last year. Twenty-two people were killed in accidents along I-8 from the East County through Mission Valley.\r\n\r\n"Westbound Interstate 8 presents sort of a unique problem on a daily basis in the area of Taylor Street," Kerns said.\r\n\r\nBoth CHP officers agree there are several factors that contributed to these freeway fatalities.\r\n\r\n"Virtually all the traffic collisions we work are driver error," Kerns said.\r\n\r\nThe officers blame excessive speed, driving under the influence, and not wearing a seatbelt for most freeway fatalities.\r\n\r\nIf you plan to travel over the Thankgiving holiday, be aware that beginning Wednesday at 6 p.m., CHP officers will be out in force watching for drunken drivers, seatbelt violators and unsafe drivers. The maximum enforcement continues through midnight Sunday. \r\n\r\nLast year in California, 60 people were killed in traffic accidents over the holiday weekend.\r\n
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