Monitor Pass, SR 120 East to Benton Now Open

Times Staff Report

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has now opened the Monitor Pass Road (State Route 89) and State Route 120 East, as of April 3.

Many wild horses have been reported all along the route from U.S. Hwy 395 to U.S. Hwy 6, and have been seen in large groups in the Mono Mills Area. Caltrans is advising the traveling public to be alert and proceed cautiously through this area.

“It’s important that motorists, when driving through areas frequented by deer, elk and other animals, do all they can to protect themselves as well as some of California’s greatest natural resources – our wildlife,” said Caltrans District 9 Director Brent Green.

Similar to deer migration, wild horses present a challenge to the traveling public. With this in mind, please note the following ways to help prevent a collision.

1. Wear your seatbelt. It may not prevent a collision, but if the inevitable happens, a seatbelt can reduce injuries.

2. Stay Center. On a multi-lane road, the center lane is your safest bet for avoiding a wildlife collision, as long as your local traffic laws permit it. This gives horses plenty of space. In case your vehicle does startle them, it gives you more time to react if one darts onto the road.

3. Stay the course. If you see a horse, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane. Swerving could make you lose control of your vehicle and turn a bad situation much worse. Not to mention, wildlife is unpredictable, and you could swerve directly into their changed path.

4. Honk! Some experts recommend that one long blast of the horn will scare most wildlife out of the road. Do not rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare them off — studies have shown them to be largely ineffective at minimizing accidents.

Please check local highway conditions before planning travel. For the latest highway information please visit the Caltrans QuickMap site at or call the Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).