I maintain a few maps that show California Highway Patrol dispatch activity. My Highway 17 tracking map got super popular this week, and a few people have asked how to decode the CHP jargon.
Let’s start with an example:
- Sr17 S / Sr9 E Ofr, San Jose FSP: State Route 17 (i.e. Highway 17) soutbound, at the Highway 9 offramp.
- BLK HOND O/T: Black Honda overturned.
- XRAY STILL IN THE VEH: Woman still in the vehicle.
- VEH BLKG #1: Vehicle blocking number 1 lane. CHP and Caltrans numbers road lanes from left to the right, so the number 1 lane is the far left fast lane.
- 1039 1141: Ambulance (1141) arrived on scene (1039).
- VEH HAS MAJ TC DMG: Vehicle has major traffic collision damage.
- PER 171 ROLL 1185 WRECKER: 1185 is code for tow truck, and wrecker means a flat bed.
- 1039 LIMA TOW SD 796 408 986 8267 W/WRECKER: I don’t know what 796 is, but you can see a (408) phone number here. 1039 means tow truck has arrived on scene.
- VEHS TO THE RHS: Vehicles to the right hand side.
“10” and “11” codes
The number codes aren’t split out how we normally think of them, so it’s not immediately obvious that “1039” in the above example is a “ten” code, i.e. it’s pronounced “ten-thirty-nine.” Other common ten and eleven codes in these dispatches include:
1013 = ROAD OR WEATHER CONDITIONS
1014 = PROVIDE ESCORT
1020 = LOCATION REQUESTED
1021 = TELEPHONE
1022 = DISREGARD
1023 = STANDBY
1039 = MESSAGE OR ITEM DELIVERED
1097 = ON SCENE
1098 = ASSIGNMENT COMPLETED
1110 = TAKE A REPORT
1124 = ABANDONED VEHICLE
1125 = TRAFFIC HAZARD
1126 = DISABLED VEHICLE
1141 = AMBULANCE
1142 = PARAMEDICS
1144 = POSSIBLE FATALITY
1148 = PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION
1166 = DEFECTIVE TRAFFIC SIGNALS
1179 = ACCIDENT – AMBULANCE RESPONDING
1180 = ACCIDENT – MAJOR INJURY
1181 = ACCIDENT – MINOR INJURY
1182 = ACCIDENT – PROPERTY DAMAGE
1184 = TRAFFIC CONTROL
1185 = TOW TRUCK
Other numbers you might see might include references to the California Vehicle Code. A dispatch might say “GRY VEH WAS 23103 AND HEAD ON WITH 2ND VEH,” which means the driver of the gray vehicle was seen driving recklessly (violation of CVC 23103). Other common CVC references include 23152 (misdemeanor DWI) and 23153 (felony DWI).
Finally, 3A = AAA, or the American Automobile Association, but can be used generically (i.e. any towing service the driver of a disabled car has called).
You can view a mostly complete list of CHP jargon at the CHP media glossary, but some of these require additional detail.
- SO: The glossary file says this means “Sheriff’s Office,” but it’s always in the context of something like LACSO (Los Angeles county Sheriff’s Office), SCLSO (Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office), SCCSO (Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office), and so forth. If you see a jumble of letters ending in “SO” it’s likely the sheriff’s office of the county the incident took place in. “FD” (fire department) and “PD” (police department) work the same way, e.g. SJPD is San Jose Police Department.
- “VEH VS XXX: You’ll see many reports like “VEH VS CD” or “VEH VS RHS,” which mean “vehicle hit the center divide” and “vehicle hit a barrier on the right hand shoulder” or similar. You might also see “VEH VS STR” — vehicle versus a structure, which can be a sign, a pole, a bridge abutment, a building, or other structure. “VEH VS PED” is vehicle versus a pedestrian, which you can find archived here.
- The 2017 Crashmap shows all incidents involving bicycle or pedestrians as reported via the CHP dispatch network. All fatalities are also shown on this map. Red dots are cyclists, green are pedestrians, black are fatalities. The red “cyclist” dots can also be motorcycle riders.
- The SR17 Incident Map shows all incidents that occur on California State Highway 17 connecting Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties.
- Chevy VS Ford shows all traffic incidents in real time involving GMC and Ford products.
- The Realtime Hit and Run Map shows hit-and-run incidents reported in real time.
- The Realtime Incident Map shows a hodgepodge of other incidents that might interest some people: animals in the road, flooding, road slides, and other traffic hazards.
Each of these maps are updated every 15 minutes. The “realtime” maps show incidents that are active when the CHP dispatch logs were polled within the last 15 minutes.