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New Ban Prohibits Vehicles with Hazardous Materials from Traveling on Highway 154

Authorities say the restriction is part of a proactive approach to preventing accidents and incidents along the thoroughfare

Vehicles carrying hazardous materials are now banned on Highway 154, an effort stemming from concerns over spills impacting Lake Cachuma, the region’s major water source.

Scott Howland, assistant chief of the California Highway Patrol’s Coastal Division, announced Monday that unless vehicles with hazardous materials placards are making a local delivery or pickup that can’t be accessed from another route, they cannot use Highway 154 between Highway 246 in the Santa Ynez Valley and Highway 101 in Santa Barbara. Authorities have already banned hazardous waste from being transported on that road.

Violating the ban is a misdemeanor with the possibility of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, Howland said. He and other CHP officials are educating the industry so truckers are aware of the new restrictions.

CHP officer Jeremy Wayland said that looking through statistics, there haven’t been any hazmat spills on that road so far and the ban is more proactive.

Santa Barbara County Supervisors Doreen Farr and Janet Wolf had pushed for the ban since 2010 with help from Caltrans, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and CHP.

Wolf said residents are disturbed with the number of accidents and incidents on Highway 154, so authorities have been working on this ban and another regulation to prohibit big rigs from using that road, which is still in progress.

On Aug. 24, 2010, the driver of a truck hauling gravel was traveling from the Santa Ynez Valley to Ventura County and lost control of the brakes as he reached Santa Barbara. The driver, Joaquin Morales of Oxnard, navigated through the intersection of Highway 154 and State Street, but then barreled through a parking lot and into a family’s home at the end of a driveway, killing the three inside instantly.

Morales was sentenced to six months in jail, and Caltrans has posted signs recommending that all trucks take Highway 101 instead of Highway 154.

Officials said the biggest reasons for crashes on Highway 154 are speed, improper turning and passing, and driving under the influence, and the CHP still has its grant to focus on DUI enforcement.

From 2007 to 2009, there were 105 DUI collisions, 60 of which resulted in injuries or deaths. CHP is working with wineries and the public to encourage designated sober drivers, according to Howland.

“State Route 154 is a windy mountain roadway and needs to be driven as such,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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