The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

August 17, 2010
What's on the freeway: Everything, including the kitchen sink

The problem: Hazards on roadways involve plenty of items that don't belong in traffic lanes, including a kitchen sink. The sink was reported recently on the eastbound Highway 50 off-ramp at Zinfandel Drive in Rancho Cordova, officials said.

The California Highway Patrol said objects left by motorists who fail to properly secure a load of household items or construction equipment can do plenty of damage to a vehicle, or cause collisions.

The solution: CHP's Valley Division spokeswoman, Officer Jeanie Hoatson, said the Vehicle Code requires that vehicles be constructed, covered or loaded so that the contents don't drop, sift, leak, blow, or spill. If something falls out, she said the driver is required to either remove it from the roadway or immediately report it to the CHP or other agency that can handle the removal.

"For safety purposes, I couldn't recommend that someone run out in the middle of the freeway to get it," Hoatson said, "but they are required to at least call."

The CHP can arrange for a traffic break to move items to the side of the road for pickup by Caltrans or local road crews.

People hauling items can be ticketed for failing to properly secure a load. And motorists who come upon a stationary object in the road are deemed at fault if they hit it. Hoatson said drivers should be traveling at speeds that allow them to stop or change lanes in time to avoid the object.

- Cathy Locke

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About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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