SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - A close call for a driver and a California Highway Patrol Officer on Highway 101 has officers reminding drivers of precautions they can take when pulled over on the side of the freeway.
A CHP Hollister-Gilroy officer pulled over behind a stranded motorist on Highway 101 earlier this week to block them from oncoming traffic while they were changing a tire.
Not long after, another driver sideswiped the patrol car, which had its emergency lights activated.
Bill Garcia, a Santa Cruz County resident, says he's been in a situation where he had to change a tire on the freeway during rush hour and says it was scary. "Cars were going 65-75 (mph), easily. You know when they just whiz by you, especially the big rigs."
He said he felt like some cars were inches from hitting him. After that incident, he says he feels more prepared now. "I went to Home Depot and bought a yellow vest so I think that's definitely going to make a difference."
CHP Santa Cruz Officer Julieta Trenado says making yourself more visible is key. “Keep your hazards on, your lights on and some people do carry triangles, flashlights, flares, cones; anything that is going to make you stay safe and visible.”
She added while it's ideal to drive to the closest exit, that's not always possible. "Pull to the right shoulder, and if you're going to exit your vehicle, make sure you exit and stay on the opposite side of oncoming traffic. Stand behind the guardrail and stand on top of an uphill dirt embankment. The slower lane is on the right-hand side, so if you do end up getting struck it’s going to be at a lesser speed.”
If you cannot make it to the shoulder and get stuck in the center divide or in the middle of a lane, she says you should stay buckled in the car and call 911.