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.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: The Caldecott Tunnel has been on Claycordians’ minds a lot lately, what with the long-awaited fourth bore opening to great acclaim. Here’s a question that popped up in the comments on a recent column:
COMMUTER: Are there cameras in the other tunnel bores now too? Does that mean no more high RPM engine checks in the tunnels anymore? (For engine tuning changes of course, not hot-rodding).
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Yes, there are cameras in all four bores, nytemuvr. The Jammer checked with her ever-reliable source, Ivy Morrison of Caltrans, and she confirmed that every bore has one.
Meanwhile, that ever-so-prolific poster, Anon, responded to nytemuvr thusly:
COMMUTER: The California Highway Patrol has to catch them doing it– camera will do no good. And yes, people go through there at 100 mph + when they can.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Intrigued, the Jammer decided to follow up on this comment with the CHP. Here’s Officer Daniel Hill’s response to the assertion that the CHP has to catch peeps speeding through the tunnel in person:
“I am familiar with your column, and have read it many times. I enjoy reading Claycord.com, as it services the area in which I live. I pay particularly close attention to your columns when they concern the CHP, and I am happy to say the information you present is very accurate!
With regard to your question, there is currently no provision of the California Vehicle Code to allow for someone to be cited for an infraction observed solely on video (with the exception of red light violations). This means, essentially, that there should be no place in the state where speed cameras are employed. I say that last part because I have seen signs that allude to “Photo-Radar Enforcement” in certain cities.
Speed enforcement in the tunnels is limited to when an officer actively observes that violation take place. Though the camera system could potentially be used to detect improper or dangerous drivers, the system is currently not set up in that manner.
That being said, the CHP continues to rely on the motoring public to help us detect dangerous or potential DUI drivers on the roadway. If one of your readers observes someone driving in an unsafe manner, or suspects the driver may be under the influence, he or she can report that driver by calling 911. Be sure to take note of the vehicle make, model, color, and license plate if possible, as well as the location and direction of travel.”
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Claycordians are outstanding at community policing, meaning keeping an eye on what goes on in their communities and communicating with law enforcement when appropriate. So keep the CHP officer’s last comment in mind, beloved readers.
COMMUTER: I was stuck in one of the Bay Area’s king-hell traffic jams the other day, and as I was inching forward in my automatic-transmission Toyota, a question occurred to me. Which is worse for the car: keeping it in drive but not putting my foot on the gas pedal, just letting the car float forward because we’re only moving at 5 mph or less … or using the gas pedal to propel the car forward, then stepping on the brake when I get too close to the car ahead?
–Damn This Traffic Jam
TRAFFIC JAMMER: DTTJ, the Jammer is willing to bet that everyone who drives anywhere in the Bay Area, not just Claycordians, feels your pain, early and often. For help with the answer, the Jammer tapped Brian Hagopian, a Las Positas College Automotive Faculty member who helps out from time to time. Here’s his response:
“Let’s have a little, very little and as basic as I can make it, automotive lesson to help you understand the answer. In a vehicle with an automatic transmission, the part that lets us be ‘lazy’ and not have to use the clutch is called the torque converter.
Ready to have your mind blown? There is NO MECHANICAL connection between the engine and rear wheels on a car with an automatic transmission. The vehicle is driven by fluid pressure. BOOM! Imagine two fans pointed at each other. Fan A is plugged in, fan B is unplugged. The air moved by fan A will cause the blades of fan B to move. Fan A is connected to the engine, fan B the rear tires. The air is actually transmission fluid.
When a car is stopped, foot on the brake, the fluid shears and heat is the result. When idling, the fluid moves fan B as much as it can (5-15mph); vehicle movement and heat is created.
When you hit the gas the same thing happens. Which is worse? Neither really, the key is to keep your transmission serviced by recommended intervals. The manufacturers have factored this into fluid life and as long as you are not abusing the system, like power braking where a person pushes on the gas and brake at the same time for an extended period (15 seconds), the transmission will be fine.
I will say that hitting the gas then braking rather than idling up to the traffic stop will cause less mpg and more brake wear. However, idling will create a gap between you and the car in front of you where 300 cars will squeeze in!”
TRAFFIC JAMMER: And we know what Captain Freeway calls those drivers: Gap-shooters! Seriously, this is an awesome question and the Jammer thanks DTTJ for sending it in.
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