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CHP picks off sitting ducks in Spreckels Park
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Aaron is a frustrated trucker.

If you know anything about the trucking industry, they get squeezed more often than Mr. Whipple squeezes Charmin toilet tissue whether it is from fluctuating fuel prices, the ever tightening clean engine standards, and clients who obviously want to get their transportation costs as low as possible.

Aaron is among the truck drivers who for more than four years have been making pickups and deliveries to various distribution centers within Spreckels Park.

The CHP powers that be have taken it upon themselves to direct patrols to sweep Spreckels Park in Manteca. Their aim is to ticket truck drivers who have trailers that are a bit too long to make various turns.  The federal law allowing longer trailers was changed after Spreckels Park was in place.

Word had supposedly gotten to the CHP from the City of Manteca that City Hall was in the process of redesigning the intersections to make them meet the newer federal standards. The work will be done on the city’s city’s dime. Government – for obvious reasons – can’t move with lightning speed. A state agency of all things should understand that.

Now after suspending their ticketing efforts in Manteca on truckers that one city official blithely referred to as “poaching”, the CHP is back at it again. Truckers started getting tickets again Wednesday.

Let me be clear on four points.

1) I have the utmost respect for the CHP. I have received two speeding tickets in my life and both were issued by CHP peace officers. They were absolutely correct when they ticketed me. They were professional and courteous. And the ticket each time made me much more aware of my driving habits and making sure that I followed the law as it is a matter of community and personal safety. The CHP also does a Herculean job despite being at staffing levels much lower than they were 20 years ago based on the state’s population while enforcing traffic laws plus making sure trucks and buses are mechanically safe.

2) The CHP has the legal right to enforce traffic laws anywhere on a public road in California.

3) The CHP is funded by DMV fees but they are still a state agency. That’s why when a city official uses the word “poaching” they are referring to the overwhelming part of the ticket and surcharge that goes to the state with a large chunk to run the courts within the county. To be absolutely clear on this point, the state has control over the court system. Also has and always will. The local jurisdiction – Manteca – gets a small slice of the combined actual fine and court costs that one of their officers issue a ticket for within the city limits. Whether the CHP likes it or not they are an agent of the state.

4) The rules for truck routes, trailer lengths on specific roads, and weight are in place for public safety and to minimize infrastructure deteriorating.

Having made those points, with all due respect it does indeed look like the CHP is poaching on behalf of the state – or at least taking advantage of an impossible situation whether truckers and business alike in Spreckels Park can’t do anything but violate the law while trying to make an honest living.

I live near Spreckels Park. A minimum of six times a day – if not more – I either drive down or past the intersections in question. I also during the course of the week at least once a day, jog, walk my dogs, or bicycle through the same areas.

I have yet to see a trucker at the intersections in question push their luck. They wait for other traffic to get out of the way. I have never seen close calls even from motorists interacting with the longer truck-trailers. Yes, I can verify how extremely difficult and unwieldy it is for some trucks to make the turns as they are currently in place. The CHP is absolutely correct. But because there are correct doesn’t make what they are doing right.

Law enforcement officers are the vanguard of the justice system. It is the law but obviously it is not just given the current situation. One would think the CHP – if they are worried about inadequate turns – would sit down with the City of Manteca face-to-face and clear up a few things. Have the city come up with a reasonable timetable and stick to it to make the needed changes. But to simply continue ticketing hardworking truckers who are trying to make a living when they have no choice is insanity.

The CHP has a right to pick and chose what they do. I get that. But why not help work on the red light runners, speeders, and those in Manteca who view pedestrians crossing streets as moving targets? More lives and property are threatened by one of those violations than all of the illegal trailer length truckers the CHP could possible write in Spreckels Park.

It is much easier to go after the truckers because they’re basically sitting ducks. They have to make their deliveries and they have to get out of Spreckels Park using tractor trailers – I might add – that are perfectly legal to use on state highways and freeways.