CHP to Crack Down on Litterbugs for “Don’t Trash California” Campaign

March 19, 2014 8:00 am · 40 comments

The California Highway Patrol and Caltrans will be out in force on Bay Area roads this week to do a little “spring cleaning” and highlight the problem of litter on California’s highways.

The statewide “Don’t Trash California” campaign, which kicks off today, aims to increase awareness of the costs of tossing trash on the highway and the danger it poses to other motorists, CHP Sgt. Diana McDermott said.

“We want to continue to educate the public on the costs of littering and the danger of driving with an improperly secured load,” McDermott said.

In 2012, Caltrans spent an estimated $50 million to clean up trash left along highways. Workers collected enough roadside litter to fill more than 8,000 garbage trucks, the agency reported.

CHP officers will be on the lookout for litterbugs during the campaign, McDermott said.

A citation for throwing trash or a cigarette out of a vehicle costs a minimum of $480, CHP Officer Daniel Hill said.

Many municipalities double the fine and charge an offender up to $1,000, Hill said. Some offenders are required to pick up trash along the highway as part of a penalty.

A truck driver or motorist who unintentionally spills an unsecured load can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined a minimum of $234, Hill said.

Ladders, mattresses, and Christmas trees are among the items most commonly spilled, posing a major hazard to other motorists, according to McDermott.

Today’s litter cleanup event will mark the 11th year that the CHP and Caltrans have teamed up to increase public awareness of litter on highways.

Anyone who wants information on Caltrans’ Adopt-A-Highway Program can call 866-ADOPT-A-HWY

Incognito March 19, 2014 at 8:16 AM

Instead of saying it is a minimum of $480, how about enforcing the $1,000 fine for littering signs and let that be the minimum.

Silva March 19, 2014 at 8:25 AM

This is GREAT news!! I’ve traveled extensively in Mexico, and trash litters the landscape in the remotest of areas I’ve been. It seems we are rapidly catching up to them in that department. Disgusting! I’d LOVE to see our littering and dumping laws enforced!!

Anon March 19, 2014 at 8:30 AM

“Ladders, mattresses, and Christmas trees are among the items most commonly spilled, posing a major hazard to other motorists, according to McDermott”

Like the scum that let that type of thing kill us care at all what happens to us.
Take their license for a year or three.

Patty March 19, 2014 at 8:33 AM

I also really hate it when people throw out lit cigarettes.

Incognito March 19, 2014 at 9:02 AM

And why do you think we are catching up to Mexico in that department?

FrogVoice March 19, 2014 at 9:16 AM

I had the very lovely misfortune of hitting one of these dropped pieces of furniture and it simply messed up my life – my car was wrecked – on and on – people are true idiots.

well... March 19, 2014 at 9:31 AM

I would like to see them ticket those that throw their disgusting cigarette buttstock out the window.

claycordian March 19, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Hopefully, the local police departments are also taking part in this, and they will catch these clowns who think that the street is their ashtray. EVERY DAY I see morons who are flicking ashes and cigarettes out of their windows. We’re in the middle of a drought, for crying out loud, and the state is a tinderbox! On top of that, it’s just plain disgusting!

Bill March 19, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Can we start with the filthy pig smokers who use the streets as their own personal ashtray??

Doubtful March 19, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Ageed with Incognito. Yesterday, I watched as three uniformed Concord officers sipped their coffees at Starbucks on Port Chicago as a man walks not more than three feet from them, sucks on his cigarete and throws it on the ground without even stomping on it. The officers didn’t even make a comment.

Furthermore, downtown Concord is a no smoking area, but I don’t think the smokers are literate – there are signs everywhere – and you can’t walk a block without bumping into somebody smoking. It is not enforced.

So while we spend time and money chasing around litterbugs for one week, the city police turns a blind eye for the other 51 of the year. They probably don’t believe stopping to warn and/or ticket violators is worth their time and energy.

With this machine March 19, 2014 at 9:40 AM

trash could disappear. Trash would be worth money. I would love to have this machine.

@Silva, #2----And the most common litter in Mexico? Plastic Bags March 19, 2014 at 9:45 AM

I, too, have traveled quite a lot in that beautiful country, and its very distressing to see the amount of plastic bags discarded carelessly, as well as the habit of just tossing refuse, instead of the proper disposal in waste containers. I once watched as a train conductor drank his Coke, then tossed the empty can from the train.

Dorothy March 19, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Agree with #1 – make the minimum $1000. For lit cigarettes it should be much more. It is sometimes amazing what is dumped on the roads.

BEERnGOLF March 19, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Don’t you just love when you are following a garbage truck and the garbage is flying out of it as it travels down the road. I also like the plastic bags that cling to the barb wire on highway 4 near Baypoint that blew over from the landfill nearby over the hills.

MikeyV March 19, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Fine those jerks that throw cig butts out of their cars and onto the street.

anonanonagain March 19, 2014 at 11:06 AM

And we wonder why there is floating island of garbage out at sea??
I am tired of people casually discarding their trash outside their windows while driving. The pavement is literally clogged with a constant flow of cigarette butts as the selfish and careless smokers discard them without a care in the world.
I am also sickened when I see lazy @$$ people eating fast food in a parking lot then leaving all their trash for someone else to clean up. Maggots!!! Actually that would be insulting the maggots since these people don’t even belong in that same category as these beautiful creatures…. 😀

Cat Wrangler March 19, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Hurray! How lovely it would be if people didn’t litter. It was interesting to drive Highway 50 through Nevada and Utah to Colorado. The border at the 0tah stateline told it all – not one bit of garbage did we see. The stateline was marked by the sign and the manicured grasses and wildflowers entering Utah and the garbage, thistles and weeds leaving Nevada. We aren’t LDS but were so impressed with the obvious care taken by the communities that we drove through and zero garbage that we saw in Utah.

Bob Brittain March 19, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Our family has picked up trash along over 150 miles of streets and trails this year. Once a trail is clean it tends to stay clean. The trash-pickup tools are available at Ace Hardware for about $15. We use canvas bags for the litter so we can pick up things like broken glass. We have to wash the bags frequently.

BagsFlyFree March 19, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Freeway debris is a huge safety concern and dent in drivers pockets for windshield and tire damage.. Its time to force trash/junk haulers to be licensed and have approved netting and cargo space requirements to safely transport goods (not movers, but trash/landscape/rock haulers). Commuters have had to dodge these 45mph freeway haulers for years and it’s time to make this side job less impactful on the rest of us who pay for high quality road access.

BFF Out!

KateC March 19, 2014 at 1:42 PM

I second “Bill’s” comments – why do people think it is ok to deposit their cigarettes on the ground and walk away? And how would they like it if everyone else used their property as an ashtray? They are polluting. And on a similar note – people who smoke are polluting the air as well. How much smog would disappear if everyone stopped smoking?

Silva March 19, 2014 at 1:42 PM

@Incognito, I was refering to litter.

#12; totally agree, I once even drove through a veritable blizzard of plastic bags someone dumped in Oaxaca flying through the wind in all directions in open countryside.

Bob Brittain; Thank you to you and your family for that.

ClayDen March 19, 2014 at 1:47 PM

There is no excuse for littering on the highway (or anywhere else) and people should be fined enough to make a strong impression on them.

The cleanest highway I can recall is the Trans-Canada Highway (Canada Hwy 1), and it is spectacular, especially the part between Revelstoke and Banff. The Canadian highways are also in excellent condition. When we crossed into Montana on Canada 93 (which becomes U.S. 93 at the border) it was amazing how much worse the highway was on the U.S. side of the border.

Silva March 19, 2014 at 2:09 PM

@Ingognito, oh sorry. I get what you were saying now.

GoodThing March 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

The crack down on the litter bugs will be a good thing. Is there somewhere we can report people we see throw garbage out of their cars. I have seen people open their doors and dump fast food crap on the road while stopped in traffic. I have seen people open their car windows and let their garbage fly. It’s very blatant and rude. Would be nice if we could report these losers.

We’ve travlled throughout the US. Most states have alot less litter on their roads–I’d have to say in many cases there is almost NO litter. When we get back to Cali, it’s a sad sight to see so much trash on the road.

Julio March 19, 2014 at 3:12 PM

BBF. I see trash haulers all the time with the proper equipment on their trucks to cover the opening but looking at it it is not used. The stuff just fly’s out on the rest of us.

et-al March 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Over 100K per year to chase litterbugs, not a bad gig. I could do it for the paltry sum of 95K. Maybe even less.

Anon 0808 March 19, 2014 at 3:46 PM

“Ageed with Incognito. Yesterday, I watched as three uniformed Concord officers sipped their coffees at Starbucks on Port Chicago as a man walks not more than three feet from them, sucks on his cigarete and throws it on the ground without even stomping on it. The officers didn’t even make a comment.”

3 @ one time is a CPD violation
It is private property – no violation
I would have said something & when they had a bad additude – then run the jerk for warrants & book him–its all that easy

funny man March 19, 2014 at 4:27 PM

with all the availablity of cell fone cameras,they should open up a hotline where you can txt in the pix of ppl littering from their cars with a license plate showing.
then we can turn in our neighbors AND make a few bucks on finders fee! i say 10% of the fine.. watch how fast the streets clean up!

GoGo Gomez March 19, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Good…go get’m!

Incognito March 19, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Vermont…. where I come from, the highways are immaculate! The grass bordering the lanes is green and mowed. You literally have to look to find any litter. Billboards are also illegal (another form of litter, in my opinion) so you won’t see any of those in Vermont.

Ven Exeter March 19, 2014 at 6:20 PM

It seems I’m not the only one seeing some pig discarding a cigarette butt out their window on a daily basis. Seems if cops would actually enforce this law with $1,000 fines, California’s budget could easily be out of the red in no time.

Shelly March 19, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Totally agree with the cigarettes everywhere, and I ALSO frequently see butts fyling out onto the roads & freeways and exploding into thousands of sparks dispersing after hitting pavement somewhere random. Crazy stupid.

@van exeter & Shelly March 19, 2014 at 10:33 PM

More than once I’ve been commuting to work on 80 and had a lit cigarette hit my car.. It’s bad enough when smokers have their window down and fill my car with the smoke odor (which gives me a headache) but then they flick butts out the window hitting motorists and starting fires. So frustrating. I’m all for the fines!

Silva March 20, 2014 at 6:10 AM

#33; well I wasn’t going to say anything as this thread’s about litter and garbage, but I have to cross the street, stay upwind, hold my breath, roll up the windows, close the vent or air conditioning, whatever I can do to limit exposure to tobacco smoke as it makes it difficult to breathe the rest of the day. Why do people do that to themselves, everyone else, and our environment?

anonanonagain March 20, 2014 at 10:58 AM

@ Silva, ” Why do people do that to themselves, everyone else, and our environment?”

Because they are addicts. I can only imagine what the insides of their homes look like and smell like. VILE!!!!

Walker March 20, 2014 at 1:12 PM

I walk several miles every day, the litter I see is starbuck cups, fast food wrappers, mattresses and just plain trash. Can’t people use a garbage can anymore or how about taking it home instead of throwing it out if your car.

Suzanne March 20, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Tossing it out the car is fine with me, just not at my door.

VikingPrincess March 20, 2014 at 1:36 PM

If a poster brought this up already and I missed it, please excuse. But I do recall there was a problem a handful of years back with the Adopt a Highway folks as many got lax and didn’t do their part, this and a lack of regulation and enforcement hours etc.
Did that get resolved?

I did notice the on and off ramps looking scary. Especially near Sun valley. Is there a program that pays people by bulk to bring in this stuff ? I’m asking because the on and off ramps are frequented by people with signs and street folks…hard to believe its all from cars considering location.

Suzanne March 20, 2014 at 2:35 PM

I’m not sure with this little scary, chickensh** campaigne. No one listens or follows it–except a**kissers. I follow the law consistently, never throw garbage out the window. I pull over to a garbage can and toss what I have in there. Don’t litter folks, there’s too much waste on the street already. Toss it into the garbage where it belongs.

Walnut Creek Resident March 20, 2014 at 7:53 PM

I wish they would catch those people that leave couches and stuff on the roads. Sick of them. Maybe with cameras they can catch a few. Good luck authorities! When I go for walks up Montego in Walnut Creek, I pick up all the fast food containers, cigarette packs, drink cups, even diapers. I fill up an empty Target plastic sack every time. I never see people dumping this stuff. How in the world can you catch the morons?

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