Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Stopping in Crosswalks, Devil’s Slide Tunnel (pics), Your First Car, Cell Phone Tix + More

November 18, 2013 14:00 pm · 25 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.

COMMUTER: Hello Jammer. I really enjoy your column. I’ve learned a lot.

My question: Is it legal for someone to stop in or before the crosswalk to let their children out of the car? Sometimes taking so long that people need to go around.

I see this quite a lot at a nearby elementary school. It probably happens at all schools.

Is this illegal or just stupid?


–Crosswalk Crazy

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Very glad you shared this question and brought the problem to light, CC!

It is illegal to “stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle” in a crosswalk, says California Vehicle Code section 22500(b). There are a few exceptions: If you’re avoiding conflict with other traffic; if a police officer or traffic device told you to; if you’re a bus or taxi unloading passengers.

The Jammer showed our resident expert the Claycordian police officer her answer and he added:

Is parking on the crosswalk illegal or stupid? As the parent of Claycordian students, I would enthusiastically say both! You are bang on with your answer. I would add that most crosswalks near schools also include section (c) Between a safety zone and the adjacent right-hand curb or within the area between the zone and the curb as may be indicated by a sign or red paint on the curb, which sign or paint was erected or placed by local authorities pursuant to an ordinance. Which is to say that most school crosswalks have red curbs adjacent to them.

This is certainly a pet peeve. The parent is typically choosing convenience over safety. It is also painfully difficult for us to enforce. The drop-off/ pick-up times are so short (a fast ticket-writer might get three done during the crush of drop-off/ pick-up). Of course, when we are visible, parents tend to mind the rules better.

Trivia: the difference between “no parking” and “no stopping” … parking means you’ve left your vehicle; stopping means you’re still in it. Sometimes, you can’t park but you can stop; and sometimes you can’t even stop.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Claycordian Shane Hargrave send along these beautiful photos and video of the new Devil’s Slide Tunnel:

COMMUTER: I got a ticket for driving while talking on my cell phone. Now I’m scared my insurance will go way up and I’ll have to pay a huge honking fine.


TRAFFIC JAMMER: The Jammer consulted with a personage no less than Tully Lehman, who has been an insurance industry spokesman with the Insurance Information Network of California for 10 years. Here’s what he said:

“The ticket for talking on a cell phone does not add a point to your record and therefore can’t be ‘seen’ by your insurer. As a result, insurance rates will not go up for such infractions,” Lehman said.

More information from the Department of Motor Vehicles question and answer page on the cell phone law:

Q: Will I receive a point on my driver license if I’m convicted for a violation of the wireless telephone or wireless communication device law?

A: No. The violation is a reportable offense; however, a violation point will not be assigned to your DMV record.

Q: Will the conviction appear on my driving record?

A: Yes, but the violation point will not be added.

Here’s Lehman’s answer regarding the amount you will have to pay:

“The fine for the offense is $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second offense. However, according to the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, a first offense increases to $76 and a second offense to $190 due to the addition of penalty assessments.”

OMGOMGOMG, it’s also possible that you might end up paying a different amount than $76. There are a number of factors at play. The best way to determine the amount is to call the court. Look on the ticket and call the number provided.

The Jammer knows you probably feel a bit crestfallen and rueful, and doubtless have decided to avoid talking while driving in future. Here’s a couple links to some related sites:

COMMUTER: I learned to drive in a Plymouth 4 door sedan with a pushbutton automatic. A couple of years later, I bought my first car, a used 850 Mini. 1,230 pounds, 10 feet long, 848 cc, 37.5 BHP, 4 speed manual, 10″ (diameter!) alloy wheels, Pirelli’s, competition shocks. Zoom Zoom!


COMMUTER: My first was a `64 MG Midget. It was so small, that instead of getting in, I had to put it on. It was too small to carry my seabag, so I traded it in for a `70 Barracuda. That was one sweet ride, especially after I put on the headers and glasspacks.


TRAFFIC JAMMER: As you can see, ClayDen and Cowellian were reminiscing about their first cars in the Nov. 4 column. Let’s hear from the rest of you. Tell us about your first car – and why don’t you email a photo of your first car as well? Send it to

ClayDen and Cowellian, you be sure to send a photo, if you have one.

The Jammer’s first car was a blue Buick LeSabre station wagon with an Iona steel body. If the car had been available during World War I, we would have wrapped that sucker up a lot faster. It was a freaking tank. C’mon, everybody, let’s hear about yours!

Email your questions to

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

1 Cowellian November 18, 2013 at 2:08 PM

I’d love to find a picture of that MG. It didn’t have outside door handles. If I had the windows bolted onto the door, I just slid the window open to reach in and open the door.

2 Domestic CEO November 18, 2013 at 2:18 PM

I absolutely HATE HATE HATE it when parents stop in the middle of Alberta Way to drop off their high schoolers. They don’t even bother to stop near the crosswalk. Just BANG-stop! It is so dangerous. It is the usual offenders too. I am taking down license plates from now on, got my pen and paper ready! Who the heck do they think they are? One day their kids are going to get hit and I will be there as a witness to say it is her own fault. One truck and one van does this and they are both women drivers. Such a disgrace to my gender.

3 Ruth November 18, 2013 at 2:50 PM

This column is the best one that you have ever had, Mayor. I enjoyed the writer when she wrote for CC Times, and still enjoy her every week. She is informative; concise, and doesn’t try to be cute or patronize. The “Housewife’ could have learned a thing or two from her.

4 " Q " November 18, 2013 at 2:57 PM

NO, this is not legal. The driver must pull to the side of the road, away from the cross walk.

Also, if there is a cross guard crossing kids you can not go through even though the kids are on the other side of the street. You must STOP, until the guard clears the street.

5 " Q " November 18, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Domestic CEO, a few weeks back a kid did get hit, while in the cross walk. Broke his leg from what I understand.
Everyone is in a big hurry and show up so late thinking they will miss the traffic, but just make things worse. I should know, I watch the cars and madness every morning from my front window.

6 Chevrolet girl November 18, 2013 at 3:20 PM

My first car was 1974 Capri. My boyfriend, now husband taught me to drive.

7 jtkatec November 18, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Now I got to go and dig through my photo albums.

8 Nuttsie the Nutter November 18, 2013 at 3:57 PM

@ OMGOMGOMG “Now I’m scared my insurance will go way up and I’ll have to pay a huge honking fine.”

Too bad you are not scared that you might kill someone while texting. Seems as if you are sorry you got caught, not that you are endangering mine and everyone else’s life by texting while driving. Unless, of course, you are one of those special people that can text and drive with complete safety. Or maybe Daddy will call the police chief and get your ticket dismissed.

9 jp5air November 18, 2013 at 4:15 PM

A big thank you for speaking to the City of Concord about the timing of the traffic lights on Monument. The signal at Mohr Lane has been adjusted and the bottleneck in the morning has been greatly reduced. Much appreciated!

10 Mimi (original) November 18, 2013 at 4:33 PM

My first car was a Red 1960 Singer Gazelle, mfg’d by the Rootes Group of England!! It was a cute little 4-on-the-floor, with the horn button in the middle of the tiny dashboard – I painted it like a bullseye! Those were the days!!

11 Dorothy November 18, 2013 at 5:30 PM

I learned how to drive rather later than most people. My first car was 1983 Honda Civic hatchback. I drove it across country twice. It was a good substitute as a small truck with the hatch up and the back seats down. It got passed on to a family member and then onto someone a neighbor knew later on in its life. We called it Grace because when I was first driving my mom would always say “By Grace, we made it home again.”

Just wondering, how many people name their vehicles?

12 down and out November 18, 2013 at 6:06 PM

The only tunnel that opened recntly is the caldecott tunel. I think someone was pulling your leg by sending you an imaginary video of a devil’s slide tunnel.

13 Killjoy November 18, 2013 at 6:10 PM

My first car was a ’72 Ford Gran Torino Sport (ever see the movie Gran Torino?).
It had a 351 Cleveland in it. I remember going into Napa Auto Parts on Clayton Rd to get some solid motor mounts.
When I tossed all four pieces of the two old mounts on the counter, as they had both broken completely in half, the guy said in astonishment “What did you do to your Cleveland?????”
Apparently I had a tad more torque than normal. LOL
I also had a tad more tickets than normal.

14 Teacher Wannabe November 18, 2013 at 7:07 PM

@down and out. The Devils Slide pic is legit. Not new though. I drive through it in September.

15 Killjoy November 18, 2013 at 7:10 PM

@down and out
On 3/26/13, the tunnels at Devils Slide did in fact open.
The slide area has been for years, known to get washed out, and the road slide down the hillside, blocking people from taking that route, forcing them to go around (for extra hours at a time).
The tunnel is HUGE news for anyone in that area.
You can check it out here.

16 Sheila November 18, 2013 at 8:19 PM

My first car was a ’73 Monte Carlo. My parents bought it for me for my 16th birthday (1976).

All the guys in high school wanted to “trade cars.”


17 ah, yes... November 18, 2013 at 9:19 PM

If you think parents near Clayton Valley CHS are rude, you should see what happens at Monte Gardens every day! Parents start arriving 20 minutes befofe school lets out, park in the Dent center driveway, then overflow onto Carlotta and Larkspur, where they stop their cars, turn off their engines, and sit stopped in the middle of the road for almost 1/2 an hour. Good luck if you’re trying to get to the district office for anything!!!! I was caught in this one day and called Concord PD; All they said was “yes we know it’s a problem. It happens at a lot of the schools in town”. Not much help when you’re trying to get to a meeting!!!!!

18 Janis Mara November 18, 2013 at 10:42 PM

These stories of first cars are amazing! @Dorothy, I had a Honda Civic too. I loved that car!

@Ruth, thank you for the kind words!

And jp5air, thanks for letting us know the situation has improved!

19 Bill November 19, 2013 at 12:56 AM

Texting is far more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Why are there no
Points for such a dangerous behavior??

20 Antler November 19, 2013 at 5:28 AM

First car I ever drove was my uncle’s Jeep; I was 12 years old, and he let me practice on his timberland and lumber yard.

First car I evere drove as a licensed driver (16years old) was my parents’ “bathtub” Nash…circa 1955….automatic shift, but I think we still used the “arm out the window” signals for turns and getting ready to slow down.

First car my husband bought me was a 1959 “Anglia”, a gutless wonder made in England, and it could hardly pull the grade going over Lime Ridge on Ygnacio Valley Road! All four wheels locked one day when I was going east on Concord Boulevard (then only one lane in each direction)……scared him (and ME) so badly that he bought me a spiffy Studebaker “Lark” convertible….”four in the floor”. Yeah, you got that right…..he’d been wanting one of those! ;-)

Dorothy, my Lincoln “Navigator” is “Brunhilda”. What’s your car’s name?

21 Shulla November 19, 2013 at 9:04 AM

My first car back in 1967: 1957 Volkswagen Bug. Was an awful Salmon Pink (factory color). Luckily, my Dad was an auto painter by trade and painted the lower half Kelly Green and used a special paint to give the illusion of a gold(not shiny or glittery) vinyl top for the top. I couldn’t go anywhere in town without people knowing it was me. Loved that car.

22 Connie Dobbs November 19, 2013 at 9:24 AM

The Venus di Mileage was a 1979 Toyota Corolla I bought in 1992.

23 Anon November 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM

1951 Studebaker Champion – light blue, 2-door.

Loved that hill-holder, the bullet-nose and three-on-the-tree!

24 Sequoia Mom November 19, 2013 at 9:12 PM

A huge thank you Traffic Jammer! The lights have been adjusted on Monument Blvd saving hundreds of drivers from a very long frustrating drive. Thank you thank you!!

25 Janis Mara November 20, 2013 at 1:42 AM

You’re welcome, Sequoia Mom! So glad I could be of help!

Loving these stories of peoples’ first cars. Aw, c’mon, @Shulla #21, send in a photo of your amazing Bug~!

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