California Highway Patrol CHP

California Highway Patrol CHP (Photo credit: Michael Ludwig)

CHP Goes After Cheating Drivers Who Use Shoulder Shortcut

KCBS Rides Along During Rush Hour Sting

Doug Sovern
July 30, 2018 - 4:00 am

Tempted to drive on the shoulder to get around that wretched backup during your morning commute?

You might want to reconsider.

The California Highway Patrol is out in force, especially in the East Bay, cracking down on drivers who cheat by turning the righthand shoulder into a traffic lane. KCBS Radio Reporter Doug Sovern rode along one recent morning with Officer Hermenegildo Baza, as Baza patrolled I-580 between the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and Interstate 80 in Albany.

"Our whole purpose is to create an impact and deter bad behavior," Baza said. He pointed out that driving on the shoulder is illegal and dangerous. Baza posted his vehicle just off the freeway, hidden by bushes at the bottom of an onramp. In only a few minutes, he spotted a car using the shoulder to get around the slow-and-go traffic. Baza raced his CHP cruiser onto the freeway, flashing his lights and sirens to pull the driver over. Before leaving his patrol car, Baza switched on his body-worn camera to record the encounter. "Anything can happen within a matter of seconds. From here, I can't tell who that driver is. I only see the violation. It could be your average person going to work, or it could be someone who is a felon, wanted for murder, and doesn't want to go to jail."

The offending driver turns out to be a woman named Crystal, just trying to get from her home in Richmond to her job in San Francisco. "I'm late for work," she told KCBS Radio, claiming she had never used the shoulder as a shortcut before. "I was just trying to get around the traffic. I'm going to get a ticket and I just got to accept that. I won't do it no more."

That's exactly the message Baza and the CHP want to send. They've been catching up to fifteen drivers an hour cheating on the shoulders. The fine varies depending on the location, but this ticket will set Crystal back several hundred dollars, and it's a moving violation so it's a point on her license. "Hey, everybody out there," she said. "Be careful, because they watching."