We asked the CHP to list what it considers the most dangerous roads that it patrols in Sonoma County.
Basing his answer on the number of serious collisions, the spokesman for the local CHP office, Officer Jon Sloat, cited:
–Mark West Springs Road, which racked up 634 crashes from 2000 to 2009, resulting in seven deaths and 414 injuries.
–Highway 116, from Forestville to Monte Rio, with 409 crashes, five deaths and 256 injuries.
–Lakeville Highway, with 244 crashes, one death and 31 injuries.
“Any two-lane road in Sonoma County can be dangerous,” Sloat said.
“This is because two-lane roads have no physical divider and are usually lined with trees that rarely move when you hit them,” he said.
Sloat noted it’s not the roads themselves that are dangerous but “it’s the way people drive them.”
Mark West Springs Road and Lakeville Highway particularly are dangerous because “people drive well above the speed limit” and when there are crashes on the two roads, “they are usually high speed and major,” he said.
Highway 116 through Pocket Canyon “is extremely winding, and many people — a majority of them regular users of the route — take it at an unsafe speed,” Sloat said.
What’s the CHP to do?
“Tickets, tickets, tickets,” he said. “Stats show that the more tickets we write in an area, the fewer collisions we take and the fewer injuries and deaths occur.”
Sloat noted Lakeville Highway used to have a high rate of crashes and deaths until several years ago when the CHP received grant money to saturate the road with patrols, “and it worked.”
He said Caltrans erected “Headlights On” signs to get drivers to increase their visibility to other drivers, and that helped reduce crashes too.
Despite those efforts, Sloat said, people still drive too fast on Lakeville.