Traffic Operations System/Safe on 17
The Traffic Operations System (TOS) Committee and the Safe on 17 Task Force meet jointly twice a year to share information about traffic operation systems in Santa Cruz County, and transportation projects and collisions on Highway 17. Members represent the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC), the San Francisco Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the California Highway Patrol (CHP), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), local law enforcement and fire departments, legislators’ offices and the media.
Traffic Operations System
Santa Cruz County’s transportation system runs more efficiently and safely due to several Traffic Operation System (TOS) components that provide the public with important information including:
- Changeable Message Signs (CMS): displays messages about roadway conditions, incidents, and delays
- Dynamic Curve Warning Sign (in photo): broadcasts driver speeds and cautions drivers about safe speeds
- Highway Advisory Radio (HAR): broadcasts additional information about major incidents (AM 840)
- Extinguishable Message Signs (EMS): advises motorists to tune in to the HAR frequency
- Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) Cameras: monitors incidents and conditions, and verifies messages on CMS and EMS
- Magnetic Loop Traffic Monitoring Stations: obtains information about traffic speeds, and counts
The TOS components are operated at the Oakland Traffic Management Center (TMC) or the San Luis Obispo TMC. Santa Cruz County’s TOS elements were implemented through a cooperative effort between the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) and Caltrans. The TOS Fact Sheet provides additional information about this program.
The Highway 17 corridor was identified as a high collision corridor in 1998 as a result of collision data analysis and recommendations of local, regional, county and state agencies. A Task Force was formed to develop collision reducing strategies.
Safe on 17 strategies
- Extra enforcement adds to the number of CHP officers patrolling Highway 17. High CHP visibility serves to encourage safer driving and deter traffic violations.
- Road improvements include shoulder and lane widening, improved barriers and road drainage, additional warning devices, and tree trimming. These improvements increase vehicle control, increase the clear recovery area for vehicles, increase sight distances, advise motorists to be cautious and address wet weather collisions.
- Public education efforts increase driver awareness of safe driving practices, especially on mountainous highways and thus reduce collisions. Brochures, press releases and articles are examples of mechanisms for informing the public about safety on Highway 17.
During the last ten years, the coordinated approach of the Safe on 17 program has reduced by almost half (43%) the number of injuries and fatalities on the Highway 17 corridor. The strategies listed above were implemented courtesy of a 3-year grant from the State Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). After the OTS grant expired, the SCCRTC and MTC agreed to continue funding enhanced CHP enforcement with funds from their Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (SAFE). The 2012 Safe on 17 Annual Report and the Safe on 17 Fact Sheet provide additional information about this program.
Safe on 17 annual reports:
The Traffic Operations Systems Committee/Safe on 17 Task Force meets every March at the San Jose California Highway Patrol and every September at the RTC office. (See our meetings page.)
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