TRUCKEE (CBS13) — If you’re driving in the Sierra, you’ll be seeing more lights during the holiday season. But they’re not Christmas lights; they’re the California Highway Patrol with a new grant to help reduce the number of traffic accidents.
“We’re excited about it,” said Sgt. Bryan Yops, California Highway Patrol in Truckee. “I think that it’s going to help increase our presence up here and hopefully help educate the public.”
Up and down I-80, the CHP has its own version of a White Christmas.
“We have chain control that can come up at any time for any amount of time,” Yops said.
The patrol’s biggest challenge in Truckee is keeping up with accident after accident on snow-covered roads.
“One person will crash, and because of the ice, ten more will crash!” Yops said.
From 2013 to 2015, the CHP saw 689 injury collisions including four fatalities. Now, the CHP hopes a new grant from the Office of Traffic Safety can help them reduce those numbers dramatically. Together, CHP Truckee and Gold Run have $69,500 to spend this winter.
“We’ll be patrolling from basically Highway 174, all the way to the state line on Interstate 80,” Yops said.
Part of the money will be spent on 700 hours in overtime to pay officers to work the highways.
“This gives us the ability to have more officers available at any given time,” Yops said.
The CHP staffing is based on population. An estimated 16,000 people live in the town of Truckee, but during the holiday season, the population typically quadruples, making I-80 a logistical nightmare to patrol.
“We’re trying to make due the best we can so we have to do more with less,” Yops told CBS 13.
Part of the grant is for winter road education. In just the last few weeks, officers have taught classes at local businesses including Sierra College, Northstar Resort, and Truckee Tahoe Sanitation district.
“Training people and teaching them how to get used to working with the big equipment on the road and how to drive in the winter conditions is our goal,” Yops said.
The next class is on Sunday at Bass Pro Shops in Rocklin, and it is open to the public. Sgt. Yops says the CHP wants to spread its efforts from Sacramento all the way to the Bay Area, making sure drivers are prepared before they take a trip up to Tahoe.