Drivers on the Crest Urged to Slow Down

Photos by Mary O’KEEFE
A CHP officer, armed with a radar gun, clocks drivers rounding a curve at Angeles Crest Highway.


California Highway Patrol has lately been up on the Angeles Crest Highway trying to get drivers to slow down as they make their way along this twisting and turning mountain road and commuter path.

“We had received calls from commuters that were worried about the Angeles Crest Highway,” said Office Bejar. “As our captain says, it is our goal to assist the community.”

Captain Tai Vong had asked the officers to patrol the Crest during the morning rush hour. CVW was along for the ride when officers drove up the Crest and stopped at an area where speeding was reportedly an issue.

A driver talks to a CHP officer who pulled her over.

In less than five minutes, CHP Officer Cooper had stopped more than four cars, all were driving at least 10 miles over the speed limit, some 20 miles over. In the next two minutes there were another four pulled over.

“We want drivers to slow down, to have a safer summer,” Bejar said.

Most residents in the area are familiar with the Crest traffic that comes with the spring. The motorcycles, bicycles and fast cars whose drivers like to drive the highway’s winding roads often take the corners way too fast. Montrose Search and Rescue team members know their beepers are going to go off a lot more when motorcyclists and car drivers miscalculate their speed versus curve ratio and end up going over the side of the road. But another issue that occurs every weekday along the same stretch of highway is the commuters who make their way from areas like Lancaster and Palmdale over the Crest to Los Angeles. Many of the commuters work in La Cañada Flintridge at businesses including Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The commuters deal with a variety of weather issues because they do not just take the Crest on sunny days but on days when the weather is not as friendly, like rain, sleet and even snow.

There are problems with vehicles going too fast as well as vehicles going too slowly that don’t pull over to allow vehicles behind them to safely pass.

“There are turn-outs and passing lanes slower drivers [should] use,” Bejar said.

Officers make their way down a line of stopped cars, some issuing citations while others issue a warning.

At times those driving the speed limit will come around a blind corner and suddenly have to slam on their brakes because of a slow driver. Ultimately, Crest drivers need to be constantly alert while driving the highway, looking out for everything from other drivers to falling rocks.

Last week though the issue was obvious – drivers needed to slow down.

The first car that was stopped was radar gauged at traveling 54 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone. The next two vehicles were gauged at 56 miles per hour.


As the CHP officers began citing the offenders, another driver who was going the speed limit gave a thumbs up to the officers.

CHP does not give out citations to meet a “ticket quota;” in fact, they see no financial gain from issuing any ticket, Bejar said.

The CHP is a state police agency and does not represent a specific city. The initial costs of a ticket may be as low as $20; however, once the local city or county’s ordinance is calculated in, the ticket can go up into the hundreds of dollars.

Some drivers were given a citation, some a warning depending on their speed. Even though the CHP patrol vehicles could clearly be seen and officers were issuing citations, many of the drivers continued to speed – and were pulled over.

“We want people to know that we are up here,” Bejar said, “and that we will continue to be here.”

The hope is that once one person gets a citation he or she will let other commuters know they have to slow down.

Another issue along the Crest, as well as throughout Southern California, is street racing. Large black circles made from tire burns could be seen on nearly every turn out along the Crest. These circles were obviously made by cars as they “cut donuts.” Like a Celtic knot, the circles cross on top of each other with several running up to the edge of nearby cliffs.

CHP has been awarded a grant that focuses on street racing, which provides patrol units, investigation tools and education.

“We see street racing as an issue and a concern,” Bejar said.

For now, CHP officers will continue their patrols on the Crest to help the commuters travel safely from home to work, and continue to be proactive in their investigation regarding street racing.

The officers were on the Crest as a result of concerned drivers. If anyone has concerns or questions regarding the travel area, they can contact the CHP Altadena station at (818) 296-8100.