Caltrans has ideas other than spike strips to stop wrong-way drivers

 In blog, Crime News: Los Angeles Daily News

Caltrans has ideas other than spike strips to stop wrong-way drivers

by Jim Radcliffe

Q. Honk: I suggest that spike strips be installed on freeway off-ramps so wrong-way drivers can’t enter them. This would be an inexpensive and effective solution to a very dangerous and deadly problem. I don’t buy the excuse that they would prevent emergency vehicles from using the off-ramps; they should not be going against traffic anyway.

– Les Slifkin, Arcadia

A. Wrong-way driving is rare – but when it does occur, it is often deadly.

Over five years ending in 2018, Caltrans says 144 deaths and 560 injuries occurred on California freeways because of wrong-way drivers, who are often intoxicated or sometimes suicidal or just confused – or, simply, the ramp was poorly designed.

Earlier this month Caltrans announced that it will put in more two-sided pavement reflectors on ramps, which are yellow or white to motorists exiting an off-ramp – and red to those going the wrong way.

A three-year, limited study by Caltrans and UC Davis saw a 44% reduction of wrong-way drivers in the San Diego area with the reflectors. Caltrans was so happy with this technique that it has already installed the reflectors in a lot of places and will continue to do so.

Caltrans is also studying “Do Not Enter” signs framed with LED lights that flash around the clock. This approach showed promise as well, the agency said, and will be further studied.

What about those spike strips?

Well, it turns out that in 1965, Caltrans actually looked into using spike strips but determined that tires wouldn’t deflated quick enough, so wrong-way drivers would still make it onto the freeways. Further, such a system would be expensive to maintain and the spikes could break – damaging the right-way driver’s tires.

These findings are dusty, sure, but they remain the basis for Caltrans’ current stance to not use spike strips.

Q. Hello Mr. Honk! I used to have personalized plates for my SUV. Then I decided to get different personalized plates. I would like to go back to using my original personalized plates, although I’d like to order them in the gold-on-black style. I found the old plates in a filing cabinet where I had placed them last year. But when I went online to the Department of Motor Vehicles site to order the plates in the different colors, the DMV said that particular license-plate sequence is not available. I’d be surprised if anyone else took those plates; they’re pretty unique. So how do I get the DMV to let me get my old plates back, but instead of blue on white, the gold-on-black ones?

– Judy Barr, Orange

A. The reason you can’t pull up your old license-plate sequence, Judy, is likely because it is still tied to you.

“When a personalized license plate is removed from a vehicle, the customer may choose to retain the configuration for future use or release their interest to allow it to be issued to someone else,” Ivette Burch, a DMV spokeswoman up in Sacramento, told Honk when he relayed your concern.

“Failure to pay the annual retention fee may result in the release of the personalized license-plate configuration to another customer if it is requested.

“If the customer was the last owner of the personalized license-plate configuration and has both license plates in her possession, she may have them reassigned to a vehicle by completing (form) REG 17. …

“The customer may be required to pay retention fees in addition to the reassignment fee.”

Sure, it’s possible that someone else grabbed that sequence, but Honk thinks too short of a time has elapsed to where the DMV would have made it available and then someone grabbed it.

So fill out the form, Judy, and Honk bets you will get control of the sequence again.

He couldn’t get a clear answer by his deadline about changing colors, but he suspects that won’t be a problem except for perhaps shelling out a bit more money.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonkthe

All credit goes to Jim Radcliffe
Originally published on

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