Freeway pavement images spark debate

Some call I-8 icons a distraction

SAN DIEGO - Drivers traveling on Interstate 8 are now getting a first glance at a first for the region -- a traffic message underneath their vehicle.

"You're kind of like, what the heck is this in the middle of the freeway?" said Encinitas resident Lew Robinson.

What's in the middle of the freeway is a large painted I-8 icon in two lanes that show drivers which lanes they should stay in to stay on I-8. It also serves as a reminder ahead of the Interstate 5-Interstate 8 interchange.

As of Thursday, the icons have been in place for five days.

"This is an attempt to give people a little more time, especially if they're not familiar with the area," said Caltrans District 11 Director Laurie Berman.

Caltrans says the painted icons were prompted by accident rates. 10News learned the interchange owns the highest collision rate in the region.

Companion icons that point the way to the I-5 exit will be painted this weekend.

Some drivers who've seen the icons like them.

"I think something had to be done. I've driven this area for years. It's always a problem. People switch lanes at the last second," said Susan Bartlett, who drives the stretch frequently.

Others say the painted signs could end up being a problem themselves.

"If you're looking down and you're driving, it's distracting, personally," said Robinson.

Curt Perry did a double take while driving.

"It could be more distracting than helpful in the long run," said Perry.

Reporter Michael Chen asked, "Is this is a distraction, could it end up causing more problems than it solves?"

"We'll certainly be looking at it," said Berman.

Caltrans points out the painted signs have helped cut down accidents in other states, but local accident numbers will ultimately determine if public safety is increasing due to a message below.


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