The California Highway Patrol is dealing with the increasing problem of pedestrians walking on freeways, and they're using a unique unit to handle the issue.
Records from the CHP show that in Los Angeles County alone, the number of calls of pedestrians on freeways more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, going from 17,181 to 36,183. To combat that increase, the CHP deploys its pedestrian enforcement detail, whose sole focus is to deal with pedestrians on the roadways.
CHP Officer Roberto Gomez attributed the spike in people walking on highways to an increase in population. "The population is increasing, as you see with all the buildings that are being built in downtown Los Angeles, and also the homelessness is increasing," he said.
As he climbed up the side of an underpass of the 101 Freeway, CHP Officer Matthew Hong underscored how the homelessness problem has exacerbated the issue. "Instead of traversing through city streets, they can go straight on the freeway," he said, pointing to the Vermont Avenue exit just a few lanes of traffic away.
That's why this specialized unit patrols areas known to have makeshift homes, focusing on making sure that people avoid the roads altogether by talking to them and offering them assistance.
Gomez said fencing and other barriers are repaired on a consistent basis, but as the number of calls continues to rise, there is room to explore other alternatives.