The California Highway Patrol on Wednesday began using radar in an aggressive crackdown on speeding motorcyclists and other motorists on the winding roads of Angeles National Forest.
"Today marks the dawn of a new era of highway safety along the Angeles Crest highway and nearby mountain roadways," Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich told reporters at a news conference along Angeles Crest Highway.
Overall, 60 miles of mountainous roadway in the forest have been targeted for patrol by two radar-equipped CHP cruisers. Included is part of the Angeles Crest highway from Highway 39 to the La Canada Flintridge boundary.
The challenging curves of the two-lane Crest highway make it especially popular with motorcyclists, who for years have used the road as a test track for their bikes, said CHP Officer Steve Munday.
"Regardless of their driving skills, they can't change the law of nature," Munday said of the motorcyclists who often cross the center line and lean into the opposite lane to maneuver the tight highway curves. "They're playing a game of Russian Roulette: Will there or will there not be an innocent motorist on the other side of the road?"
Since 1983, the CHP's Verdugo Hills office has recorded 232 injuries and 12 deaths in 205 motorcycle accidents on the highway.
Last summer, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Antonovich asking for a CHP traffic study of the area. The study found that more than 44% of all motorists in the forest exceed the 55-m.p.h. speed limit, with some traveling more than 100 m.p.h. As a result, the supervisors approved purchase of the $4,000 in radar equipment, Antonovich said.
The radar speed-control program also encompasses Angeles Forest Highway from upper Big Tujunga Road to Angeles Crest Highway; Big Tujunga Canyon Road from the Los Angeles City Boundary to Angeles Forest Highway and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Angeles Forest Highway to Angeles Crest Highway.