The Law Offices OfPhilip M. Tobin

Highway 17 one of California's most dangerous roads

San Jose drivers typically have stories of hits and near-misses they had while traveling on Highway 17. There is an above-average number of collisions on the stretch of road from San Jose to Santa Cruz, some of which may be attributed — at least in part — to the fact that there are more drivers than ever using the highway.

But what else is behind Hwy. 17's moniker of "one of California's most dangerous roads?" The highway snakes around a series of blind curves and sharp turns. When traffic is particularly dense, some drivers' aggressive behavior in traffic, e.g., speeding, spinning out, cutting other motorists off and experiencing episodes of road rage, exacerbates the inherent dangers.Distracted driving adds to dangersCommuters who get distracted by doing anything other than driving create even more hazards on Hwy. 17. In 2015, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) dealt with over 660 collisions, a 10-year high. One CHP officer noted that "[i]t's incumbent upon everybody to observe all the rules of the road, all the speed laws, [not] following too closely, keeping distractions out of the car."Specific danger spot

One section of Hwy. 17 contains a curve locals nicknamed the "Valley Surprise." This is at the south end of state route 35, where the overpass known as Summit Road tops Hwy. 17. There, the road makes a sharp western curve and reveals a sudden horizontal curve that has been the scene of multiple collisions.

Who bears responsibility for accidents?

In a moment, a driver's life can be irrevocably altered by the actions or negligence of another motorist. Simple things like failing to signal a lane change, riding the bumper of the vehicle ahead or glancing down at a cellphone can create havoc on the highways and lead to numerous injuries and deaths.

If you get injured in a highway collision on a California road and it is not your fault, who might bear responsibility for your injuries and damages? Certainly the driver whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident could bear some liability. But, in certain circumstances, it might also be possible to seek compensation from the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) or other entities if they were negligent in their duties to repair or maintain the road where your crash occurred.

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