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.
COMMUTER: Driving down California Street near Trader’s Joes, I see people both making left turns into the Trader’s parking lot and coming out of the lot making left turns on to California. There is a double yellow line there, which is not separated to allow turning. Is it not a violation to cross a double yellow?
–Walking The Line
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Beloved Claycordian, the Jammer understands your confusion. She blushes to admit that once upon a time, she actually honked (well, it was just a very short blip) at someone for turning left across a double yellow line. It just seemed, well, wrong.
To her surprise, upon researching this years ago, the Jammer discovered that in California it is perfectly legal. Those seeming miscreants in Trader Joe’s are not doing anything wrong. Drivers can make a left turn either across two parallel solid lines or across two parallel lines, one of which is broken. This is set forth in California Vehicle Code section 21460(c).
When you brought it up, WTL, the Jammer turned to our beloved Officer Leo to make sure nothing changed since she last researched the matter. Here’s the officer’s verdict:
Double yellows can be crossed for left turns.
This is often confused with two set of double lines (that’s four lines total). This is covered by
2. Divided Highways (Section 21651, Vehicle Code)
It is unlawful to drive over, upon, across, or to the left of the barrier, double parallel lines, or dividing section of a divided highway.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Controversy arose in the comments section of the last column regarding noisy mufflers and stereos. For those of you who didn’t catch La Ducha’s comments, or even those who did, the Jammer feels it is her duty to share:
COMMUTER: In the Monument area, the tuner cars with the coffee can exhaust are the biggest nuisance. That booming fart bass will make one mad, combined with a gargling with razor blade style exhaust note. I’ll take Harley noise any day, the tuner guys like to loiter and subject you to their listening preference. … A tuner car is a lowered Honda, aftermarket wheels, a spoiler and cut coil springs. … Listen to hours of ranchero music against your will and the tuba resembles a fart. I am convinced this is what they play in Hell.
COMMUTER: (Responding to La Ducha:) Actually, they don’t play tubas in Hell, they play accordions.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: So, Claycordians all, as you can see, last week’s column was one of the most amusing on record. The Jammer thanks La Ducha and Kirkwood for their contributions. Obviously, it is beyond my ken, indeed, my Barbie and my Skipper, to divine whether it is tuba or accordion music that torments the ears of those who find themselves consigned to the Lake of Fire. (“Dammit, Jim, I’m a commuter columnist, not a theologian!”)
However, let’s see what we can discover when it comes to loud mufflers and loud music. There was quite a bit of debate as to what is and isn’t legal when it comes to noise. Once again, Officer Leo has come to the rescue. Here are his insights:
Yes, loud vehicle stereos are covered under Section 27007 of the Vehicle Code. If I can hear it from 50 feet away, it’s too loud. The average lane is 10-12 feet wide. And I put cars and trucks at roughly the same length. You can do the math.
Here are the sections on exhaust noise. Rather than go by the decibels, the average street cop goes by the following rule: “Is it louder than when it rolled off the show room floor”?
If so, it had been modified. If it’s been modified to be louder than stock, then it can be construed as excessive and/ or unusual. This is the argument we use and it’s upheld in the courts.
Muffler shops, mechanics and car-guys (or girls) will argue the decibels as reported or recorded by themselves or manufacturers. I’m telling you from courtroom experience.
Vehicle Code section 27151:
(a) No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of the vehicle so that the vehicle is not in compliance with the provisions of Section 27150 or exceeds the noise limits established for the type of vehicle in Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 27200). No person shall operate a motor vehicle with an exhaust system so modified.
Vehicle Code section 27150. Adequate Muffler Required
(a) Every motor vehicle subject to registration shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise, and no muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device.
COMMUTER: “…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…”
Sure — always drive slowly in the fast lane. Let them pass you and get pissed off. Another good trick is to brake abruptly from time to time. If the person behind me does not keep the distance, he will rear-end me, and it will be his fault.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: The Jammer is unsure whether VB was being sarcastic in this comment, which appeared in last week’s column. Another reader responded seeking Officer Leo’s opinion: “I would like to get Leo’s input on this, because sudden braking for no apparent reason might be considered reckless driving and the results of your rear-ender may not be as pleasant as you think. Your argument of they were following too close may be overruled by you causing the accident by abruptly breaking for no reason.”
Here’s Officer Leo’s input:
I am compelled to address the comment about inducing a collision by needlessly and abruptly braking. This is flat-out dangerous and illegal. One cannot control nor predict how a driver that is already arguably traveling faster than you or following closely will react. The handbook tells you to tap your brakes, move over, or (as a last resort) slow until they pass.
Vehicle Code section 22109. Signal When Stopping
No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle on a highway without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give the signal.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org