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Fatal Crashes are Far Too Common on Highway 4

Traffic congestion on a major California highway.

Highway 4 is the longest highway in Contra Costa County. It runs 37 miles both ways from I-80 near Hercules in the west to the border of San Joaquin County on the east. It’s a highway filled with “dangerous turns, steep bumps, tight lanes” – and a problem with speeding that has led to a high rate of fatalities.

As of mid-July, there were 10 crash fatalities on Highway 4 and a total of 44 dead in 39 accidents since the first day of 2021. That works out to an average of about one death every six weeks over a two-and-half-year period.

Speeding, lack of seat belt use cited in deadly accidents

“People speed, and people don’t wear seat belts,” said California Highway Patrol officer Adam Lane, a public information officer for the agency. “When we get out to a scene, and you see them ejected, and the seat belt dangling … I can’t tell you how frustrating that is.”

These fatalities come even though the county has spent about $1.1 billion on highway safety projects over the last ten years, said Tim Haile, the executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. He notes that at one time, Highway 4 was  “one of the most congested and dangerous (highways) in the country.”

There are factors that have made the road more dangerous in recent years, he notes. One is the persistent population growth in the eastern part of the county. Another is low use of public transportation. Heavy traffic was often seen during commute time, but there are now large numbers of cars on the highway at all hours.

“People are out there all day long,” he said. “And people are driving faster.”

Catching speeders is a constant challenge

Lane says the highest-complaint area is near Highway 4’s junction with I-680 on the Pleasant Hill-Martinez border, where there are multiple exits and merge ramps. Traffic on ramps to and from I-680 often spills out onto Highway 4, leading to sudden stops in traffic flow.

Other areas of the highway pose additional dangers. In some places, the highway’s shoulders run up against concrete walls. Drivers coming from onramps only have a short length of road to merge into speeding traffic. In the far eastern part of the county, the highway narrows to one lane in each direction.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers are constantly on the watch for speeders and seat belt violators. Lane said during a four-day enforcement period in early July, the CHP used five patrol cars to monitor Highway 4 – up from the usual three.

But unlike DUI incidents, which spike at certain times of the week and year, speeding and the lack of seatbelts are a constant problem, he said.

An experienced attorney can fight for you

Especially when speeding is a factor, a highway car accident can result in serious injuries or fatalities. If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash in Contra Costa County, it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. Clancy & Diaz, LLP can help.

Our legal team can investigate your highway accident. We gather evidence, interview witnesses, and carefully review accident reports to get the facts. Then we build a strong case for compensation. Our attorney can help you fight back against insurance company tactics designed to pay you less.

Don’t delay. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We handle cases in Walnut Creek, Antioch, Pittsburg, and throughout the Bay Area.

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