Thursday, March 10, 2016

Traffic Breaks

When you see policy car zig-zag on the highway, it is doing traffic break. Yesterday I met this situation on highway I-280, and the officer was moving to clear a road block.

A traffic break is any separation in the flow of traffic—naturally occurring or otherwise—along a road or highway.In heavily congested traffic, natural breaks occur rarely, thus the term traffic break most commonly refers to the manual separation of traffic, normally conducted by highway patrol officers.

We all know the term Round Robin as it relates to sporting competitions, but California Highway Patrol (CHP) also uses the term Round Robin when they need to slow or stop traffic on a freeway. The official term is traffic break.

The most important thing to know about traffic breaks is that they are only used when absolutely necessary. The goal of the CHP is to keep traffic flowing, so when it becomes necessary to run a traffic break you can be assured it is necessary to provide for the public’s safety. It may be due to a hazard in the roadway, a victim of a tragic accident being treated by paramedics, or it may be that the roadway ahead is impassible.

A traffic break is started by a patrol car or motorcycle officer making their way across all lanes of freeway traffic with the emergency lights activated.  You will see them veering from left to right and you should never attempt to pass them. It is not only unlawful, but also dangerous.

When faced with a situation where you see a patrol officer running a traffic break, remain patient and stay behind him or her.  It’s for your safety, as well as the safety of others. post has more details regarding traffic breaks

Traffic breaks are used by law enforcement to:

  • Slow or stop traffic to remove hazards from the roadway.
  • Conduct emergency operations.
  • Prevent traffic collisions in heavy fog or unusually heavy traffic.

During a traffic break, the officer turns on the rear emergency lights, slows the vehicle, and drives across the lanes of traffic in a serpentine manner. To assist the officer in conducting a traffic break:

  • Activate your emergency flashers to warn other drivers there is a hazard ahead.
  • Slowly begin to decrease your speed. Do not slow abruptly unless it is necessary to avoid a collision. Slow to the same speed as the officer, while keeping a safe distance from the patrol vehicle ahead of you.
  • Do not attempt to drive past the patrol vehicle. Do not accelerate until the patrol vehicle has turned off its emergency lights and traffic conditions ahead allow the return to normal speeds.