H-SANTA MARIA

Apr 30, 2013 7:37 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

CHP says slow down after crashes at on-ramp

Work to widen the Highway 101 Santa Maria River Bridge is coming along, but accidents there are starting to add up.

The California Highway Patrol is urging drivers to pay attention and slow down, particularly when merging onto the bridge northbound at Broadway.

"In the last year just on this northbound area, we've had 25 collisions," said Sgt. John Ploetz, Santa Maria CHP.

The state began widening the bridge to three lanes a few years ago and is slated to finish that project in 2014, but until then it's limited to just two lanes.

The Santa Maria CHP says they've been called out to four accidents in the last week at the northbound on-ramp at Broadway and Highway 101. They say speed and following too closely are the contributing factors.

"Everybody likes to get right close to each other's butt, and what happens is the first one starts to slow down because of traffic, and then they plow into each other," said Ploetz.

The CHP says, while some accidents are special circumstances, the majority of them can easily be avoided.

"What's really nice about this merge is your sitting high. You can already be looking on the freeway and checking to see how you can get into the traffic flow," said Ploetz as we approached the on-ramp.

He added, drivers traveling down the freeway have the right of way.

"The key thing is to merge either behind or in front of the people already traveling down the freeway," said Ploetz.

He says if everyone is considerate on the roadways, we'll all get to where we're going more safely.

The Santa Maria River Bridge will remain under construction through the next year.

The CHP says most of the accidents have happened during the morning hours.

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