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 email@example.com.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Controversy arose in the most recent column over this question from the esteemed ClayDen:
COMMUTER: I see so many cars with “jewelry” hanging from their rear view mirror. First, I believe it’s illegal, as it’s an obstruction to your forward vision and a distraction to your driving and situational awareness. One common item I see dangling is a tassel, often with a young driver in the car. Frankly, I don’t care to see proof that you graduated from high school; I would rather you demonstrate that you can drive safely. I also see beads and a bunch of other stuff swinging around in drivers’ cars.
Also, I still see people with a GPS unit mounted to their windshield in the middle of the windshield, contrary to the law that prohibited this a few years ago. You don’t see this as much now, since more cars come with it integrated into them, as well as smartphones having built-in GPS capability.
Can you check with your officer friend and see how (if?) they are enforcing this?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: The Jammer responded, “They (dangling items) are obstructions to the driver’s clear view, and hence a violation of the Vehicle Code.” Several Claycordians took issue:
COMMUTER: My GPS does not distract me at all. And it will stay where it is on the windshield. What I have hanging from my mirror does not distract me either so it will stay. No cop is going to waste time pulling someone over for this. Maybe ClayDen is the one getting distracted while looking into other people’s vehicles while driving.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Some agreed and some disagreed with Mrs. T, leading to a series of hilarious exchanges including Mrs. T jokingly encouraging ClayDen to “go on with your bad self” (all in good humor).
The Jammer’ personal favorite was between Cowellian, who commented, “For every stupid law, there was at least one stupid person who made it necessary,” to which RunnerDope responded, “And if we have a law for every stupid person, we’re going to end with a lot of stupid laws,” capped off by Cowellian’s response, “I think we’re already there.”
But to return to the basic question, IS it against the law to hang stuff from one’s rear view mirror, and DO law enforcement officers mete out tickets for doing so? Clearly, it was time to enlist a professional, and the Jammer called upon Daniel Hill, our helpful California Highway Patrol officer. Here’s what he had to say:
“The California Vehicle Code states that any item that obstructs the view of the driver is illegal, specifically per Sections 26708(a)(1) and 26708(a)(2) of the Vehicle Code. This includes items that hang from the rear view mirror.
The CHP does enforce this violation, especially when it obviously affects the driving behavior of the motorist. During our Start Smart teen driver safety courses, we emphasize that teens should do everything they can to increase their safety while driving.
There are three locations where things can be affixed to a vehicle’s windshield. GPS devices and other things that could potentially obstruct a motorist’s vision may only be mounted in the extreme lower right or left of the windshield.
A FasTrak transponder, or other transponder that allows commercial vehicles to communicate with our inspection facilities, can be affixed to the windshield directly above the rear view mirror. Objects affixed to any other location on the windshield are in violation of the law, and can earn you a chat with a member of the CHP.
The CHP enforces this law, along with other mechanical violations, because they affect the safety of the vehicle and its occupants. Windshield obstructions, malfunctioning lights, and other mechanical or equipment issues could pose a hazard that might contribute to a collision, and thus we enforce them just as we enforce moving violations.”
That’s a pretty strong statement, beloved Claycordians. Since tickets are ungodly expensive these days, the Jammer doubts any of you want to test the veracity of Officer Hill.
COMMUTER: Please, would you find out whether California is one of the four states now using the sticky GPS tracking device which can be fired from a grill launcher during a police chase? The police can shoot it at the suspect’s car, call off a dangerous high speed chase, and then ambush the suspect later.
Also, why doesn’t the suspect realize the device is there and remove it….maybe even putting it on someone else’s vehicle?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: The Jammer passed this question about CHP practice on to Officer Hill. Here’s what he shared:
“The CHP is not currently testing the sticky GPS tracking device. This is a burgeoning technology that hasn’t made its way to our department for testing yet. We are excited for any technology that allows us to reduce the number of vehicle pursuits that we have to become involved in.
Whenever our officers engage in vehicle pursuits, they constantly weigh the risk posed to their lives, the lives and safety of the general public, and the safety of the violator against the benefit of catching the evading violator.
Whenever the risk exceeds the benefits, our officers will cancel the pursuit themselves. Vehicle pursuits are a dangerous business, and can be completely avoided if the violator simply does what every motorist should: stop for the red lights.”
COMMUTER: I have had my FasTrak transponder many years and the Velcro strips seem to be getting worn out. It’s hanging by a thread at present. Any ideas?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Not to worry, Unstuck. Call FasTrak and they will send you replacement strips. The number is (877) BAY-TOLL (1-877-229-8655).
TRAFFIC JAMMER: And now, the Jammer turns the table on her beloved Claycord readers! For the last few months, her jammin’ around the Bay has been helped by Siri, then by the Google Maps app.
Actually it would be more accurate to say “hindered.” Siri took the Jammer to an empty field in Livermore after being given the correct address of a gym. Most recently, after being given the address of a Lucky store, Siri took the Jammer right past the store, directing her a mile down the road, then stranded her in a strip mall, intoning, “Arrived at your destination.”
Claycordians, what has been your experience with Siri and the Google Maps mobile app? Are you having similar disasters, or not? Any advice?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: And now, a QUIZ! It has been a while since the Jammer has run a quiz, because the mighty Claycordians who read this column are so smart it’s hard to find a truly challenging question. Finally, the Jammer found one to test your mettle:
“If an officer is driving down the road and is going slower than the posted speed limit, do you have to go the same speed as the officer?”
(This does not apply to CHP doing a traffic break on the freeways.)
The first three correct answers will appear in this column. Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, beloved Claycordians!
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