A reader asked recently just how many crashes there have been in the Rohnert Park-Cotati construction zone on Highway 101.

Last year, when construction really got going, 371 crashes were handled by the CHP between Santa Rosa Avenue and Petaluma Boulevard North compared to 298 for the same stretch in 2009. (Note: Some of the crashes were outside of the construction zone and other factors contribute to them, such as the annual pumpkin patch south of Pepper Road.)

“There has been an increase in crashes because drivers are not being as cautious as they should be in a construction zone,” CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.

He said it’s hard to pin down a common cause for the accidents. Some may get distracted by the construction equipment or work going on; others follow too closely.

Asked what Caltrans has done to minimize potential crashes in the construction zone, spokeswoman RocQuel Johnson replied that the agency has tried to keep the public informed of the construction progress and upcoming lane closures, cut the speed limit to 55 mph, installed K-rails on both sides of the road and within the last couple of weeks the CHP has installed radar trailers along the highway.

While the radar’s a nice reminder of your speed, it has limited value. A pickup zipped by the Road Warrior last night just before the trailer on southbound 101 south of Highway 116 and the radar flashed 75 mph! To really make a difference, a CHP officer is going have to stake out that area to drive home the point of the sign.

Johnson said Caltrans also wants drivers to be aware of highway conditions in the construction zone, be cautious and give themselves a safety buffer between cars.

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  1. sheryl

    I drive this section of the freeway everyday and I almost get run over by people not following the reduced speed limit. The CHP needs to step up enforcement here, before someone gets killed. From the time the constructin started, up to today, I have yet to see ANYONE get ticketed there. C’mon CHP help keep us and Caltrans workers safe!

    March 17th, 2011 8:05 am

  2. Bill

    I drive 101 at all hours of the day and night in my job. It’s just like it was for the Windsor construction. About 1 in 10 vehicles obeys the 55mph speed limit. Combine that with drivers that don’t know their car width (they drive near the center line when they are 2+ feet from the K-rail) and it’s the perfect recipes for a lot of crashes.

    March 17th, 2011 8:08 am

  3. Dan

    Driving this stretch always makes my blood pressure skyrocket: it’s a death trap (far worse than the Windsor construction in my opinion). Speeding drivers may be a partial cause of accidents here, but poor layout is a bigger one. I will drive many miles out of my way to avoid the on-ramp from 116 south to 101 south – there’s no visibility and no merge lane,. The ramp simply dumps the unsuspecting driver out into 60-70mph traffic. The lanes on 101 proper are so narrow that I’m uncomfortable driving them in my car; I can’t imagine how hard they are for the big-rig drivers. It’s hard to believe that the crappy layout the construction crews have set up is legal. Even if no one has died so far, it’s just a matter of time.

    March 17th, 2011 8:31 am

  4. srken

    I wonder why whenevef I drive thru the area,there is hardly ever any work going on..A dangerous situation like this one is only made worse when work isn’t getting done as rapidly as it could/should. Foot dragging by the contractors involved is going to cost some motorist their life eventually.

    March 17th, 2011 8:35 am

  5. Joyce R

    I don’t travel this as often a many but I was out there yesterday and did note that the radar showedmost cars were traveling much faster than the posted 55 MPH.
    The roadway is tight and I saw several near misses as cars that were pretty much going the posted 55 were either passed or tailgated as I was by those going much faster,
    In other areas where I have seen constructions zones such as these are also no passing zones. I am wondering why this area is not designated as a “No Passing” zone. It might cut down on some of the accidents.

    March 17th, 2011 8:47 am

  6. bradpipal

    I move over to Stony Point Rd…..It’s just time before my number is up while driving on South Hwy 101 near Rohnert Park thru Penngrove…..No one understands that they are endangering Hwy. workers……Stop this high-speed driving and have more law enforcement on the road…..And turn on your lights to be seen…

    March 17th, 2011 8:58 am

  7. Amy

    they need to even out that darn road pavement!! it’s so uneven that when driving through i feel like im all over the place in my lane and im afraid im going to hit the k-rail or a car in the lane next to me.

    March 17th, 2011 9:54 am

  8. paul

    hey road warrior, what’s up with construction?
    we drive both south and north bound lanes each day and see no construction progress for at least the past three months. more frequest construction progress updates would be appreciated.

    March 17th, 2011 10:16 am

  9. ER

    People don’t seem to realize the 55 mph speed limit goes from just south of Todd all the way over the hill to the bottom of the Cotati grade. They get past the obvious construction zone and speed up.

    March 17th, 2011 1:29 pm

  10. Safedriver

    Stop expecting people to obey traffic laws people! It’s not going to happen. Cops lost the battle years ago around here. The tickets written these days doesn’t even make a dent in reducing the number of violations and people know that. Drive however you want because you can and will get away with it. You practically have to run into a cop car to get a ticket now.

    March 18th, 2011 4:10 pm

  11. Dean Antonio

    Speaking of bad construction zones: Petaluma blvd. South where the beautiful new apartments overlooking the freeway. The road is reduced to two lanes abd terribly potholed and dangerously narrow. The real thing that needs to be addressed is the fact that the earthmoovers removed a large part of the hill and sound block for west Petaluma. Not only will there be more freeway noise from this unauthorized, and sneaky earthmooving, but the beautiful apartments and all the concrete from the roads leading to this future mudslide, will reflect the sound further into our communities. Don’t even think that soundwalls will work. When I lived in Mill Valley and they widened the East Blythdale exit by removing many pine trees, the sound wall only reflected and concentrated the sound making the noise level worse.

    March 22nd, 2011 10:36 am

  12. safe driver

    i just got a speeding ticket on 101 southbound between rohnert partk and cotati… just staying with the flow of traffic at 70mph (they picked me out)
    does anyone know if that section of road has been properly surveyed for radar or if there is any other way i can contest this ticket?
    safe driver

    July 18th, 2011 12:24 pm

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