Traffic Operations System/SAFE on 17

Traffic Operations System/Safe on 17

The Traffic Operations System (TOS) Committee and the Safe on 17 Task Force meet jointly twice a year to share information about traffic operation systems in Santa Cruz County, and transportation projects and collisions on Highway 17. Members represent the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC), the San Francisco Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the California Highway Patrol (CHP), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), local law enforcement and fire departments, legislators’ offices and the media.

Traffic Operations System

Santa Cruz County’s transportation system runs more efficiently and safely due to several Traffic Operation System (TOS) components that provide the public with important information including:

  • Changeable Message Signs (CMS):  displays messages about roadway conditions, incidents, and delays
  • Dynamic Curve Warning Signs (in photo): broadcasts driver speeds and cautions drivers about safe speeds
  • Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) Cameras: monitors incidents and conditions, and verifies messages on CMS and EMS
  • Traffic Monitoring Stations: obtains information about traffic speeds and counts

The TOS components are operated at the Oakland Traffic Management Center (TMC) or the San Luis Obispo TMC. Santa Cruz County’s TOS elements were implemented through a cooperative effort between the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) and Caltrans. The TOS Fact Sheet provides additional information about this program.

Safe on 17

The Highway 17 corridor was identified as a high collision corridor in 1998 as a result of collision data analysis and recommendations of local, regional, county and state agencies. A Task Force was formed to develop collision reducing strategies.

Safe on 17 strategies

  • Extra enforcement adds to the number of CHP officers patrolling Highway 17. High CHP visibility serves to encourage safer driving and deter traffic violations. Added CHP enforcement is funded in part by Measure D.
  • Road improvements include shoulder and lane widening, improved barriers and road drainage, additional warning devices, and tree trimming. These improvements increase vehicle control, increase the clear recovery area for vehicles, increase sight distances, advise motorists to be cautious and address wet weather collisions.
  • Public education efforts increase driver awareness of safe driving practices, especially on mountainous highways and thus reduce collisions. Brochures, press releases and articles are examples of mechanisms for informing the public about safety on Highway 17.

The strategies listed above were implemented courtesy of a 3-year grant from the State Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). After the OTS grant expired, the SCCRTC and MTC agreed to continue funding enhanced CHP enforcement with funds from their Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (SAFE). The 2019 Safe on 17 Annual Report and the Safe on 17 Fact Sheet provide additional information about this program.

Safe on 17 annual reports:


The Safe on 17 Task Force/ Traffic Operations Systems Committee meets twice a year every 3rd Wednesday in March at the San Jose California Highway Patrol and every 3rd Wednesday in September at the RTC office to share information about transportation projects and collisions on Highway 17 and traffic operation systems in Santa Cruz County. Meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to attend.  (See our meetings page.)

Meeting Agendas

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RTC Contact

Amy Naranjo
Transportation Planner
(831) 460-3200