Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on Claycord.com.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This Claycord.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMMUTER: O Traffic Jammer, you have said before that your pet peeve is people who do not use their turn signals. But surely there are times when it is not necessary. For example, if you are in a marked “left turn only” lane at an intersection, where it’s painted on the curb and further demarcated by a separate stop light. Yes?
-Citizen Against Redundancy
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Here is the answer to our good friend CAR from our very own Claycord law enforcement officer, who anonymously, without recognition, helps out by answering such questions. (Though we can’t use his name, we do say thank you!) The officer’s response:
“I would have to know if the turn lane is controlled by a signal arrow (not just a circular light). The arrow indicates no other movement is allowed – also called a “protected” turn.
Examples: you’re in a left turn lane but you have to wait for oncoming traffic either because you’re facing a green circular signal or no signal at all … still required.
A previous Traffic Commissioner was heard saying that he did not think one was necessary in a turn lane with a protected turn (controlled by a light). He’s no longer presiding over Traffic Court, and I don’t know what the current one thinks.
I would offer this to CAR: why not? Communicate with your road buddies and use your turn indicators. And for some of you, they’re turn indicators- you don’t have the right-of-way because you used it.
So, any light I can shed is, well, flashing at best. Folks have to remember that driving is a community and its relationships are part art and part enforcement.
I remember in Hawaii seeing a lot of stickers with “drive with aloha”. Can you imagine if we could subscribe to that prescription?
COMMUTER: Dang it Janis, if you listen to the Claycord Scanner, a lot of the calls are the police pulling over folks with no license plates.
Did you know it’s illegal to fully cover your license plate, even with a clear cover?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Our pal J brings up a very important point. Not only do you have to have license plates, front and back, but you have to be careful how you install them. The Vehicle Code is vague about a lot of things, and permissive about a lot of other things, but very touchy about license plates.
Here’s the exact quote: “No portion of a license plate security cover shall rest over the license plate number.”
When you think about it, it’s easy to understand why. This is one of the key ways law enforcement can identify a driver, yes? That’s why the Vehicle Code also stipulates that license plate security covers must not “obstruct or impair the recognition of the license plate information, including, but not limited to, the issuing state, license plate number, and registration tabs, and the cover is limited to the area directly over the top of the registration tabs.”
Even a clear plastic cover could yellow or crack over time, obscuring the license plate. Thanks for your comment, J!
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Woohoo, beloved Claycordians! Good news arrived in the Jammer’s mailbox last week. Here is the original post that started this line of inquiry:
COMMUTER: I live in North Concord just above the North Concord BART station and witness many moving violations daily. As you drive up Panoramic from the BART station there are a total of three “No U-Turn” signs, yet people still do it at the intersection of Panoramic and St. George. Most, I suspect, are doing it to bypass the traffic on Highway 4 going up the hill to Bay Point.
Is there anything I can do to increase the patrol/enforcement of the sign, as it poses a safety issue not only to other drivers, but the numerous pedestrians who walk in the area?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: The Jammer spoke to Concord Traffic Czar Ray Kuzbari, who promised to talk to law enforcement about it. And behold this latest missive from Victor:
COMMUTER: Thanks! There is a motorcycle cop posted at the intersection.
COMMUTER: If I’m in the middle of a conversation via the earbuds on my iPhone and I get in my car and start driving, it’s OK to continue since it’s hands-free, right?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: You are correct that the setup is hands-free and hence conforms to the laws governing talking on cell phones. But to remain legal, you must remove one of the earbuds from your ear. A person driving a car (or a bicycle, actually) cannot have a headset covering both ears or earplugs in both ears.
COMMUTER: The photo in last week’s column of a meter maid cart in a handicapped parking space put me in mind of another question. If some jerk parks their truck or SUV in a compact parking spot, can they be cited, the way a non-handicapped driver can for being in a handicapped spot?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Wondering, just so we’re all on the same page, the Cushman cart was not in a disabled space. It was in a former disabled space whose logo, alas, had not been fully obliterated. The Jammer would like to add that the folks who felt the meter maid still should not have parked in that space do have a point. Especially considering that this is the very entity that dispenses parking tickets.
Now, back to your question, Wondering. Unfortunately, there is no punishment for owners of giant hulking vehicles who park in spaces marked “Compact.” The “Compact” designation is only advisory. For one thing, the line between compact and non-compact is a bit blurry, if you think about it (though obviously a Chevy Suburban does not qualify).
TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by Claycord.com 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 email@example.com