Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
District 7 Director Doug Failing delivers a wintery message regarding safe driving in challenging weather.

by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 12/2006

Even in Southern California, motorists need to take extra precautions in the winter months.

Last year, 60 people died in traffic accidents across the State just during the Thanksgiving period alone. More than 1,500 were arrested for driving under the influence.

Statistics such as these are behind the Department’s decision to emphasize winter driving safety in its new campaign, “We’re Here to Get you There,” discussed in Caltrans district media events on Tuesday, November 21, throughout the State.

“As we stand here in the warm sun, it may seem like winter driving conditions are the last thing in the world we have to worry about,” said District 7 Director Doug Failing.  “But I can assure you that Southern California has its share of serious weather-related traffic hazards.”

He reminded members of the press and employees gathered in the District Headquarters Plaza area that “we only have to think back a couple of years ago to the `Storm of the Century,’ when washouts occurred on some the District’s rural routes and a boulder the size of a house forced the closure of Topanga Canyon Boulevard.”

Some of the District’s outlying routes even experience severe snow and ice, such as SR 150 in Ventura County, I-5 at the “Grapevine,” and SR 39 in the Angeles Crest area, where storm-related repairs continue to this day.

Closer in, there are the more common hazards of fog, extended night driving and, most important, holiday traffic.

“So, even though it might seem like winter here will continue to be a day at the beach, Caltrans has been preparing for nature to Bring it On,” Failing said.

Some of the ways that “We’re Here to Get you There” include the work that goes on behind, and under, the scenes, i.e. the freeway system’s storm drains, which are critical to keeping the roads clear during the winter months.

Caltrans also has been improving other infrastructure, such as repaving roads with new stronger, longer-lasting pavement, and continuing to fill potholes as soon as they are located.

“These are things the Department can do; for the rest, we are looking for motorists to meet us halfway,” Failing said. He listed various ways that motorists could do their part to make their winter driving experience safer and more convenient. They need to:

• Be Prepared. Leave early and anticipate delays.
• Know Before You Go. Caltrans provides numerous methods to access traffic information that enables drivers to choose alternate routes and departure times. These include Highway Advisory Radio, or HAR; Caltrans Highway Information Network, or CHIN, which motorists may access by calling: 800-427-7623, the Caltrans website (, and the real time data on travel times from one interchange to another displayed on Caltrans Changeable Message Signs (CMS). 
• Be extra cautious and extra courteous on the road.

For those venturing into the mountains or other potentially snowy places, Caltrans has created a new brochure on winter driving tips, available to download from the Department’s website. Also, limited numbers can be obtained by contacting the District’s Public Affairs office at (213) 897-3656.

Other speakers at the press conference were Ltd. Greg Hammond of the California Highway Patrol and Marie Montgomery of the Automobile Club of Southern California.


Press coverage of the winter driving safety event. District 7 Director Doug Failing flanked on the left by California Highway Patrol Lieutenant Greg Hammond and on the right by Marie Montgomery of the Automobile Club of Southern California. The Caltrans snow plow traveled from the North Region Maintenance Yard to the District Office Building for the winter driving event. District 7 Graphics Services Department created winter hazard signs for the event (Designer: Tim Baker).