BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Interstate 5 runs all the way from the Mexico border to the Canadian border -- splitting through the state of California. And the stretch through the Grapevine is one of the most challenging -- according to the California Highway Patrol's Fort Tejon office.
Those officers said more than 100,000 drivers travel the Grapevine daily. And in the last 12 months 14 people have lost their life on the Grapevine. They add knowing the "Rules of the Road" can help you drive safer and be more courteous to your fellow driver.
Karen Tomlinson is a pickup truck driver who is commuting from the Los Angeles Area, back home to the Bay Area. She said, “I’m a driver. I love driving. And I love coming down 5.”
She is one of the millions of drivers who drive over the Grapevine every month. She said one of her pet peeves driving the Grapevine are slow drivers in the far left lane.
“The drivers if they’re in the left lane and they’re obviously going slower, it drives me up the wall, because there’s no reason," said Tomlinson. "And they drive past the sign that says ‘slow drivers get over.’”
Recently states like Alabama have adopted anti-road rage laws making it illegal to go slower than the flow of traffic in the far left lane. While CHP officer Rich Anthes said California doesn't have anti road rage law specifically for slow drivers in the left lane, there are signs that state slow traffic must keep to the right – which can be enforced.
“Use the number one lane for passing," said officer Anthes. "Nothing causes road rage more than people getting jammed up in the number one lane.”
A AAA study found about 80 percent of drivers express significant anger, aggression or road rage when slow drivers cruise in the far left lane. And officer Anthes said not only does it cause road rage, but it’s unsafe and creates traffic.
Officer Anthes said, “Somebody going slow creating a wall of traffic, finally scooting over, and the roadway’s wide open. And that person in the fast lane is going much less than the speed limit.”
Along with unsafe speeds – officer Anthes said his officers are looking out for trucks that drive outside the far two right lanes.
“Trucks are supposed to be in the far right lane, they can get over one lane to pass,” said officer Anthes.
Officer Anthes said if trucks are driving in any lane outside of the far right two lanes it’s not only illegal, but dangerous.
“At times we’ll get them three wide, in rare cases we’ll get big rigs going four wide and passing at a very slow rate," said officer Anthes. "Sometimes at 40, 45 miles per hour, in the one and two lanes. And that can cause one road rage, and two if somebody’s not paying attention, they’re going the speed limit, it can cause a collision.”
Michael Fortune is a truck driver from Columbus, Georgia. He said he comes out west and drives through the Grapevine a lot. He would like to see the speed limit for trucks increase, at least going up hill.
“It hurts you because sometimes you need that speed to get up the hill," said Fortune. "And you’re losing all your speed and now you’re creeping up the hill at 20 miles per hour, you have cars cutting in and out of traffic creates a very dangerous situation, you know not every truck is equal. So you have trucks three and four wide going up. And this creates a bad situation overall.”
Officer Anthes said unsafe speeds and road rage are factors in most of their deaths on the Grapevine. And they’re out there working to prevent all deaths. He said if you follow the "Rules of the Road," move over when you're cruising and give yourself enough time to get where you’re going you will be a safer drivers. And fellow drivers like Fortune and Tomlinson agree.
Fortune said, “If everyone would be more attentive to what they’re doing, if you see a faster truck coming over, wait an extra second or two to get over.”
“Please move over," said Tomlinson. "I don’t care if, the roads have been improved on 5 and it’s not that bumpy on the right side anymore. And so get over and let people pass and wave at them.”
Officer Anthes said if you see anyone driving too fast, in the wrong lane or unsafely, to call their non-emergency dispatch number 661-827-5400.