YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The State

CHP to Rev Up Muscle Car Patrol


As part of an ongoing effort to crack down on unsafe truckers, the California Highway Patrol said Tuesday it plans to deploy a fleet of new white Camaros to covertly cruise the state's freeways.

The 60 muscle cars, which should be on the road by January, will nearly double the fleet of specially marked patrol units used to target big-rig drivers.

The CHP already has 64 white Ford Crown Victoria sedans monitoring commercial trucks on the freeways. But truckers armed with citizen band radios have learned to spot the sedans and warn their compatriots of a lurking "snow bear."

Like the Ford sedans, the Camaros will bear the CHP logo on the doors but not the distinctive black-and-white coloring. From the vantage point of truck drivers, the aerodynamically-shaped cars should more readily blend into traffic, said CHP spokeswoman Anne DaVigo.

Still, even when word inevitably spreads about the new patrol cars, DaVigo said, CHP officials believe the Camaros will act as a deterrent to speeders and unsafe truck drivers because they will be fast and hard to spot.

The CHP is planning to ask the Legislature for funding to hire 100 new officers, in another move to beef up freeway patrols.

The additional staff and vehicles are part of a larger crackdown that was prompted by a rash of statewide truck crashes last summer. Collisions in which a truck driver was to blame increased 9.5% between 1999 and 2000. Truck fatalities were up 8.2% during the same period.

Last year in California, 412 people died in 114 big-rig crashes. In 134 of those deaths, truck drivers were at fault, the CHP said. In 1999, 395 people were killed in 97 such accidents. The CHP blamed truckers for the loss of 126 lives.

The crackdown has been endorsed by the California Trucking Assn., which represents about 2,500 trucking organizations.

In Southern California, DaVigo said, the Camaros will primarily be deployed on three heavily used truck routes near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The longest stretch targeted by the new cars will be a 21-mile portion of the Long Beach Freeway, from Long Beach to East Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times Articles