Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Carrying a Corpse, Red Zones + Much Much More

November 19, 2012 14:00 pm · 24 comments

Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every Monday at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.

Email your questions to

COMMUTER: My car has reached the end of its natural life, I’m afraid – I got a letter from the state telling me I’d been reported for too much smoke coming out of my tailpipe. What are the consequences of being reported this way?

–Smoking But Not Hot

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Fear not, Smoking But Not Hot – nothing is going to happen to you, as long as you take care of this problem. You can get the car fixed, or if it really is done, over, through, fini, caput, history, guess what? You may be able to surrender it to the state and get money back. Visit the Bureau of Auto Repair, one of the best friends a Californian ever had, to see if you are eligible: Call 866-272-9642 or go to

COMMUTER: I see many funeral processions up the street where I work and I have, as one of the youngest grandchildren, participated in way too many processions as my aunts and uncles have passed. I always have wondered what is the legal speed limit for carrying a corpse? It truly does seem to be a controlled speed.

Thank you so much for all of the information you provide us. Sorry for the morbid question.

–Pleasant Jenny

TRAFFIC JAMMER: It certainly does seem as though there is a lower speed limit for funeral processions, Pleasant Jenny, but Pleasant Hill Police Officer John Hunt said that’s not the case. “The speed limit is determined by the vehicle and the location, not by what you are carrying,” Officer Hunt said.

COMMUTER: Why is it that FedEx, UPS and delivery trucks get away with parking their trucks in red zones, leave their trucks unattended and proceeding with their deliveries without penalty? I’ve seen this on Treat Boulevard where the 3-lane mini-freeway is suddenly narrowed to two lanes, with no cones or warning, by the big semi moving companies delivering to apartments by BART. Can you help?


TRAFFIC JAMMER: As Mika suggests, Beloved Claycordians, it is illegal to park in a red zone. Larger businesses usually have loading zones and that’s what truckers use when they can. As you probably already know, local police departments are short-handed – Walnut Creek just had to disband its traffic division – so this is a tough one. If it looks as though a truck is creating an immediate danger, you could always report it, Mika.

COMMUTER: Have you traveled eastbound on Grant, then East Street? The lights are so poorly timed, I find myself wasting more and more time. They appear to give priority to left-turning westbound traffic that is practically nonexistent and as soon as one turns green, the next one turns red. It is almost comical. Please let the traffic engineers know.


TRAFFIC JAMMER: Dunga, looks like this is one of those situations with dueling priorities. The Jammer contacted Concord Traffic Manager Ray Kuzbari and he said, “Port Chicago Highway runs so close to East Street, it is very hard to get signals coordinated in sequence both on East and Port Chicago Highway. We favor Port Chicago Highway because it’s the busier street and as a result, East Street does not get perfect coordination.”

COMMUTER:  The City fixed the bumps on Margo–thanks for your help.


TRAFFIC JAMMER: Beloved Claycordians, Bob is referring to Margo Drive in Concord. The Jammer is pleased to have been of assistance and glad, Bob, that you let me know.

COMMUTER: Hi Jammin’ Janis, here’s a question that I’m sure you’ll find a solution for.

Traffic has been very slow along Ygnacio and Clayton Road in the mornings and I’ve not been able to find a site to give a traffic report. It’s easy to get an Interstate 680 report but I don’t know a site to get a report for local Claycord traffic. Any suggestions?

Thanks – a local commuter and regular JJ reader!

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Thanks right back at you, Local Commuter! You and your fellow Claycordians are a bright spot in my life! As you already know, is a cool site that shows how fast traffic is going on various Bay Area freeways – I believe that’s what you’re talking about, yes? We’ve also discussed the Caltrans live traffic cameras,

TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by at 2pm for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.

Send your questions to

Traffic Jammin’ is brought to you by Lehmer’s Concord Buick GMC. Step up to your next GMC. GMC Truck Month is Happening Now!

1 Howard K Mullins III November 19, 2012 at 2:12 PM


“someone reported you”? Who?

Some anonymous person can phone the state and the state will send a letter to a car owner telling them what to do? Do we call this Nazism?

Where is the proof that the car does not work and smokes. Where is the proof that the smoke is too high and by who’s standards is that measured? What gives the state the power to act upon a random complaint? What recourse is there for the car owner if they feel the letter was not warranted?

A neighbor can complain about another neighbors car and the state can force the removal of the car? Guess we really do live in a Nazi state.

When will the CHP start sporting red swastikas?

2 Z-Man November 19, 2012 at 2:18 PM

@Local Reader
I think you are referring to traffic sensor website showing approx. speeds on YVR, and other such roads. has a traffic option which, bassed on how zoomed in or out you are, you can see traffic speeds.
If you have a cell phone, you can go to to get google maps for your phone, which can also show you traffic data.

3 The Grant November 19, 2012 at 2:30 PM

FYI: Waze is a good app for traffic, accidents, etc while on the go.

4 Z-Man November 19, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Woops it is for the app to be loaded to your internet enabled Android, Blackberry, Apple, etc

5 TOB November 19, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Also a good traffic link right on CHP incidents on top left of this page. Down right now for maintenance 11/19 but I use it to plan my commute home down the city streets. Check the 1st 2-3 boxes on legend on left side and zoom into Walnut Creek, Concord. It will show you what the street traffic is like.

At Traffic Jammer, why can’t schools along Treat and Oak grove push car pooling. From Clayton road past Cowell grid lock because every mom has to take child to school. Every kid who can drive drives alone. Was refreshing today 50% less traffic. Will drop more when Carondellette and DeLaselle are off. Why can’t Concord work with schools and insist they carpool. I know teens can’t under law but Moms can carry more kids take turns. My girl went to Carondelette and we took turns busing 5 girls to school. Madness all these single occupied cars for school. Turn left off Clayton onto Treat and stopped.

6 Cowellian November 19, 2012 at 2:49 PM

A couple of years ago, I read an article at SFGate that discussed commercial deliveries in San Francisco. UPS and FedEx consider red zone and double parking tickets as a cost of doing business. Each has an agreement with the city where they pay all of their fines on a monthly basis. San Francisco gets a revenue stream, and the delivery companies don’t worry about being booted or towed.

7 12ga November 19, 2012 at 2:50 PM

jail rape is one consequence

8 Cowellian November 19, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Question: what’s the worst that can happen if you ignore that letter from the state?

9 Bumper November 19, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Caltrans doesnt have cameras on YVB and Treat. SIGAlert doesn’t have information for city streets.

10 smokin' cars suck November 19, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I often call the smoking car hotline. The noxius emissions from unmaintained cars is a health hazard. Not nazism, owners should maintain their cars in compliance with emission standards.

11 Enfield303 November 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM

@Howard K Mullins lll…Yep,it’s true. It happened to my boss a few years back. It just takes one call. He drove a 1979 Cadillac diesel.Had to go DMV and do a bunch of paperwork to prove it was exempt.

12 ANONONONON November 19, 2012 at 3:15 PM

@Howie K.

Calm down. Nobody takes you car away from you. You do know that every two years you are requied to have your car smog check and if it fails you have to get it fixed or stop driving it. So if somebody reports you, you get a courtsey notice telling you to look into it. Obama/Jerry Brown ain’t coming for your car. Aren’t you a little to quick to throw around the Nazi word for someone so fanatic.

13 @Howard November 19, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Howard: Careful. If you spend too much time here, you’ll miss Glenn Beck’s show.

Otherwise, here’s a tip: … take a few classes. Learn with the “-isms” really mean before randomly dropping them in a sentence.

14 no handle November 19, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Funny how walnut creek pd has a bomb disposal unit but no traffic enforcement unit.

15 TinFoiler November 19, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Was the “smoke” in the morning or when the car was still cold aka steam?
What a shame that any uneducated sheep can pick up a phone and make an uneducated accusation.
YES – Schools should Promote carpooling as much as Cal Trans does for commuters. The amount of school gridlock is Ridiculous.

16 anonymous November 19, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Howard, You do some fairly stupid posts but this is right up there. They send a letter, for Petes sake, hardly the stuff of a police state.

Look up “over reaction ” see if its got your picture in the definition.

17 Screwy Louie November 19, 2012 at 4:24 PM

The smoke criteria is similar to the Diesel vehicle smog/smoke test.
fully warmed up, snap idle test, check for “visable plume” using mirror and/or a white background.
Any visable smoke is a failure

18 Howard K Mullins III November 19, 2012 at 5:03 PM

To all,

Yes, my post on this thread was a not one of my best. Guess my mood was a bit more hostile than usual. Probably a Freudian reaction to the new state legislature.

If you feel my posts are “stupid” why are you reading them? I don’t follow Glenn Beck, but thanks for the link. I hate bureaucracy, standing in line at DMV is as much fun to me as walking through a leper colony. And I am sure that last sentence offended someone as well. Too bad.

19 Dorothy November 19, 2012 at 5:35 PM

I hope everyone who will be driving this weekend all have safe trips be they long or short. Tis the season to watch out for all those other folks on the roads.

20 cainmyrearview November 20, 2012 at 7:34 AM

@no handle I’m sure WCPD gets more bomb threat calls than traffic violators…..right!? Don’t we keep paying more taxes to support safety services? Oh, sorry, my mistake. That money just goes to the pensions and benefits of the retired. Maybe we should ask them to come back to work so at least we are getting something for our money!

21 ddt November 20, 2012 at 7:53 AM

I get those on my restored classic cars, Don’t fall for it . it’s the air resorces board buy back program where they take your car and crush it and give big polluting industries tax credits to pollute more. 1000 for my classic Dodge challenger I don’t think so. if this is the same letter which at the bottom says if this is a classic car disregard this notice then throw it away.

22 trafficjammer November 20, 2012 at 9:22 AM

@Z-Man and @TOB, thanks so much for supplying some sites where Local Commuter and the rest of us can go to learn traffic conditions on Ygnacio and other local roadways!

Looks like a longer item on the smoking vehicle program is in order. The Jammer will get cracking on the research.

@Dorothy, excellent point! Let’s all be careful on the highways so we can live to enjoy many more Thanksgiving holidays!

23 JDA November 20, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Tailpipe ‘smoke’ is deceiving. I had a car that was reported and it was cold engine steam as mentioned above. A pickup truck I had using way too much oil, but there was never any smoke from the tailpipe.

Try radio 92.1 KKDV for local traffic reports during commute. I’ve heard YV road and other surface streets reported there.

A FedEx buddy reports they get tickets all the time, FedEx pays the tickets and chalks it up to a cost of doing business. They’d rather have their people deliver quickly & they’ll pay the cost of the occasional ticket.

24 gimli November 20, 2012 at 3:28 PM

I’m more worried about the cars without brake lights. There was one compact with no lights the other day on Clayton with a Firefighter tag -which was somewhat ironic. I believe there’s 20 cars without brake lights to every one “smoker” car.

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