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: Since you seem to have such a fabulous connection to officers, maybe you could once and for all clear up the confusion and frustration regarding posted speed limits. You just referenced the towing rules:
Most drivers in passenger vehicles who are towing are unaware of this law, despite the signs all over the freeway that say “All Vehicles When Towing 55 Maximum.”
I wanted to again bring up the inconsistency between the “posted speed limit” and the “slower traffic keep right” signs. I can get a speeding ticket if I drive over the posted speed limit, but I can also get one if I drive it and the rest of the public decides that they’d rather drive 75-80 mph.
If THEY set the speed much faster, then I am obligated to move over so they can break the law and endanger others on the road. Someone, somewhere, needs to deal with this. Either the speed limit is 65 on the freeway, or it’s not. If it is, then I should be able to drive that speed in any lane I choose.
Please get some official input on this once and for all!
–Speeders vs. Road Boulders
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Actually, SVRB, the Jammer has addressed this more than once in the past, and has included comments from law enforcement.
Since the question does seem to keep popping up, much like a Bozo Punching Bag (remember those?), Leo, our resident Claycord law enforcement officer, kindly agreed to respond. Here’s what he had to say:
It would be incredibly rare to receive a citation for going the speed limit when “the flow of traffic” is going faster. However it is just as inherently dangerous to maintain your position in lanes you know are moving faster than you. Unless you’re employed like I am, it’s not your job to slow people down.
Traffic history: the maximum speed limit was 55 mph. Both for safety and fuel economy. It’s been changed. And still there are select areas within the state that are higher.
When the signs were new and shiny – when the roadway was flat and free of imperfections, vehicles did not have the performance capability they do today. It took longer to accelerate, longer to stop, and sometimes it took more effort to maintain high speeds.
With this in mind, slower traffic moved right.
This little lesson might help explain the inconsistency.
So, what shall we do?
I reiterate the words of my esteemed colleague from the CHP.
With respect to the HOV laws, or any laws for that matter, it is up to the individual as to whether he or she chooses to live within the laws or violate them. The role of law enforcement officers has never been to guarantee obedience to the laws. Society in general creates a system of laws which we all are expected to follow, and we as peace officers are tasked with maintaining order and dealing with those who choose to violate those laws.
No matter how many officers we employ and have on the streets, we as law enforcement cannot guarantee a completely law-abiding society. We are the stewards of the law, but we cannot force someone to obey the law. The decision to do something legal or illegal rests squarely upon the shoulders of the individual.
Many people make negative comments about traffic enforcement, in many cases due to a citation they received.
Or in this case, one they anticipate.
What can you do? Vote. I strongly advocate voting. You can make a difference. You can create laws or change them. It takes time, energy and effort but it is possible. I’ve been a part of it.
If you have time to blog, you have time to make a difference.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Our beloved Mayor already ran an item about this, but the Jammer figures it won’t hurt to put up another reminder: The DMV office located at 2070 Diamond Boulevard in Concord closed n for renovations on Friday, April 11, 2014, and will reopen in September. Thanks to the helpful reader who conveyed the information!
COMMUTER: I am in utter sympathy and solidarity with the Claycordian who has posted about the inverse relationship between loud exhaust on motorcycles and certain portions of the anatomy. Is there a law against those thrice-damned exhaust blasts? What about car horns?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Why yes, NC, as a matter of fact, there is. Motorcycles manufactured after 1985 are legally restricted to a top end of 80 decibels, which is approximately equivalent to an alarm clock.
And you are right – there are laws placing noise limits on other vehicles, too. One example is that mufflers must be maintained “to prevent any excessive or unusual noise.” Law enforcement officers do indeed enforce this, NC.
COMMUTER: Someone pointed out to me that there apparently is some sort of gentleman’s agreement that big trucks drive on Interstate 880 but not Interstate 580 between Oakland and Hayward?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: As a matter of fact, GJ, it’s more than a gentleman’s agreement. It’s actually against the law, which dictates that no vehicle weighing 9,000 pounds or more can be operated on I-580 between Grand Avenue in Oakland and the San Leandro city limits.
Buses and paratransit vehicles are allowed to drive the 8.7-mile-long stretch of road, and sometimes the ban is relaxed for practical reasons.
This is actually one of the Jammer’s favorite bits of traffic history in the Bay Area. In 1951, trucks weren’t allowed on MacArthur Boulevard, then a major artery because I-580 hadn’t yet been built. The ban arose to save the pavement from wear and tear and the residents from noise and pollution, and was extended to the freeway in 1962.
Speaking of another favorite bit of traffic history, Beloved Claycordians, what role did a Rancho Cordova firm play in one of the major traffic events in the Bay Area? We’ll all know if you googled or not by the timestamp on your response J
TRAFFIC JAMMER: And now, continuing on the subject of quizzes: The Jammer recently ran a quiz, asking, “When is it illegal to go on a green?” The responses were awesome, as they always are; and not one of them was wrong.
However, as is so often the case in life, some were more right than others, and three winners were chosen by Officer Leo on the basis of how much they corresponded to the spirit of the question. Which gave rise to this follow-up comment:
COMMUTER: So in reading the “supposed” correct answer to the quiz, you can drive “straight through” when your light is green even though you may block the intersection when the light turns red? Need clarification here, please.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Our beloved Officer Leo quickly, as in the very day the column appeared, advised the Jammer thusly:
In today’s column, someone asked for clarification about the quiz. And the response is “no.” A driver cannot enter an intersection on a green signal knowing that he/ she cannot get to other side. It was only in the spirit of the quiz and question that the more accurate answers were chosen.
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