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: Nearly every morning as we travel westbound Ygnacio Valley Road and prepare to turn right on Ayers Road, we find a string of cars that are using the improved shoulder as an extended right turn lane. This shoulder runs for about 1000 feet before the actual right turn lane. Rain or shine, we will see cars driving on the shoulder to avoid the backup and having to wait a few extra seconds before turning.
In researching the Vehicle Code, this seems to be illegal behavior. But perhaps we’re missing something that permits this driving?
Attached is a video that shows the section of westbound Ygnacio and what it looks like each morning around 8 a.m. If this is illegal, do you think the Concord police would like to make some money? Or alternatively, if this is a common practice and seems like people need the right turn to be longer, is there a reason that improved shoulder couldn’t be marked instead as a full right turn lane?
Sign us, “Perhaps Others Like Keeping Ahead, Driving On The Shoulder” (a.k.a. POLKA DOTS)
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Thanks, POLKA DOTS, for the great video you sent along. The Jammer saw right away that this was a job for our resident law enforcement officer, who is himself a Claycordian in every way, as his family lives here and he also works here. The officer kindly penned this response:
“Passing using the shoulder is unlawful. Refer to California Vehicle Code section 21755(a) which states: ‘The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting that movement in safety. In no event shall that movement be made by driving off the paved or main-traveled portion of the roadway.’
The shoulder is not the main-traveled portion of the roadway. It is for emergencies. Also, if traffic is bumper-to-bumper and inching along, passing on the shoulder (where you are NOT supposed to be anyway) even at 25 mph or slower can be “dangerous” and, therefore, violate the code.
I like to play these scenarios in my head (and for the readers, too): So I am in my emergency vehicle (pick your favorite: fire truck, ambulance, or police car). I am headed to an emergency with my lights flashing and siren sounding. What are drivers required to do by law: CVC 21806?
Well, it says: “…the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway, clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.” (Emphasis added)
So, if I am trying to get by, the right lane (#2 lane in this case), moves to the shoulder, the left lane (#1 lane) moves to the #2 lane, and I have a clear path to the emergency.
For those that use the shoulder: not only are you violating the law, but you are also driving in peril. There is SO MUCH debris that gets thrown to the shoulder, especially on a thoroughfare like Ygnacio Valley Road, it is –well- perilous. Believe me, I work there.
There are a bevy of laws that govern what is allowed and what is not when it comes to passing. In short, passing on the right is discouraged. Refer to the following sections: 21750 CVC directs you to pass on the left, 21754 CVC gives specific examples of when it is OK to pass on the right, as does 21650(f) CVC.
And. lastly, I have to address the “police make some money” comment. <Yawns, drums fingers on the table> Really? This is so tiresome. Folks, Claycord cities get pennies on the dollar for the fines imposed in citations. There simply isn’t enough revenue in issuing citations to impact a suburban city’s budget.
Even in metropolitan cities, the revenue from parking citations barely impacts the budget. The citations issued in Claycord are, mostly, issued to address hazardous driving (whether you agree with them or not). And there are studies to prove that focused traffic enforcement has an effect on drivers’ behavior.
As for the engineering of or elongating the turn lane … now, that has some traction. We always say there are three E’s to traffic: Education, Enforcement, and Engineering. Well, we have covered two here. The rest is up to you, Janis.
COMMUTER: I’ve got a question for one of your automotive experts. Cars are getting smarter with every new model. For years, cars have been able to turn on their own headlights when it gets dark. So why in the world can’t they turn on the headlights when the wipers are on?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Our resident automotive expert, Las Positas College automotive faculty member Brian Hagopian, answered the question:
“Actually some models do just that. The one I am most familiar with is the 2006 Cadillac CTS, I owned one! As time goes on, more and more models get these features, and until the federal government creates a law… it will just be a luxury item.
For example, rear view cameras, soon enough there will be a federal law that every car will be required to have one for child safety. People cannot see little kids behind them because of body design.”
The Jammer thought she’d share Hagopian’s email tagline, because she really liked it: “Never trust quotes you find on the internet.” – Benjamin Franklin
In addition to Mr. Hagopian, several smart Claycordians contributed their expertise on the windshield wiper subject. The first to comment was Been There, who said, “In fact the 2013 Chrysler Town & Country has that exact feature. If the windshield wipers have been on for more than a few seconds, and you have it set to the automatic lights mode, the headlights come on. Very convenient!”
Kali shared that the 2005 Chrysler also has automatic lights, and A said his or her 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis has the feature. crazytech58 said, “Newer cars have this feature,” so if you have a recent model and it’s not yet activated, check your owner’s manual on how to do so.
COMMUTER: One of my pet peeves is when I am driving along in the right-hand lane, a driver merging onto the freeway ahead of me will cut over the solid white line dividing the entrance ramp and the freeway. I narrowly missed a collision when this happened the other day.
Shouldn’t those drivers wait until they get to the broken line? Is it against the law to cross the solid line?
–Hates the Unexpected
TRAFFIC JAMMER: HTU, your signature tells the story. The more we know what to expect from other motorists, the easier it is to drive safely and avoid crashes. This is why people who don’t signal annoy the Jammer so much.
In order, the answers to your question are yes and no. The drivers should wait until they reach the broken line to merge onto the freeway. If they do not do so, however, it is not punishable by law. By all means, however, depending on the situation, the driver who crosses the solid line could be cited for unsafe lane change, unsafe turning movement, reckless driving or following too closely.
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