Laurel Curve is located south of Scotts Valley and about 12 miles south of Los Gatos' main entrance to the freeway.
The "sand-paper" like treatment was applied in July of 2012 to that section of the highway and is generally only used along short segments of roadway or isolated curves near high accident rate locations such as Laurel Curve, said Caltrans spokesman Bernard Walik.
The downside of the treatment is that it wears out much faster than other pavements; therefore; it requires a higher level of maintenance compared to other paving surfaces such as open-graded asphalt, Walik added.
"So far in our analysis, the benefits of this type of nonslip surface are highest over shorter highway segments as opposed to long stretches of roadway," Walik said.
The high-friction surface was applied after Caltrans installed the temporary concrete median barrier along the Laurel Curve section of Highway 17, north of Scotts Valley.
The safety measures were taken after CHP reported an average of 30 car crashes a year at the location in a three-year period, from 2009-2011.
Also, a crash the morning of March 18, 2012, north of Scotts Valley, claimed the life of 57-year-old Gerard Wener, of Brentwood, who was driving on southbound Highway 17 in a gray 2005 Nissan Altima when he somehow lost control and crossed into northbound traffic, according to the CHP.
The Nissan struck the side of a Chevrolet Suburban and spun around, then hit the front of a Toyota 4Runner, CHP officials said.
The 4Runner then collided with the side of an Acura Integra.
Wener was pronounced dead at the scene, and two adults and a 5-year-old in the 4Runner were injured and were taken to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz.
The occupants of the Chevrolet and the Acura were not injured.
The crash shut down northbound Highway 17 and one southbound lane for about three hours.
Caltrans also added a southbound curve warning sign along Highway 17 at Laurel Curve, said Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers.
As the fall and winter weather approaches with possible showers, Caltrans officials are reminding motorists to drive carefully along the Highway 17 corridor, especially around Laurel Curve past the Summit, Shivers said.
The upgrades were made possible through grant moneys from the Federal Highway Administration, Shivers said.
"Anything that we can do, whether it's a barrier, or a surface treatment ... all of these things, plus driver education will certainly contribute to a reduction in these crashes," Shivers said.