Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Timing Signals on Galindo, Lap Seat Belts (are they legal?) + MUCH MORE

June 2, 2014 14:00 pm · 18 comments

Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This 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

COMMUTER: Several months ago, one of your readers wrote to you, complaining that when driving inbound on Galindo, if you get in the lanes on the left which then become designated left turn lanes at Concord Blvd., the lights were not synchronized properly.

You spoke to Concord’s traffic czar, who fixed the problem. I drive that route every morning to work and frequently blessed the person for bringing that situation to light. However, for some unknown reason, the synchronization has changed again.

You can no longer go through the green light at Clayton and hit a green light at Concord Ave. to make a left turn. Drive a block, then stop and wait for 2 minutes.  What happened? It worked so beautifully for months! Why did they change it back to the old, stupid way???

–Very Frustrated

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Good news: When the Traffic Jammer checked with Traffic Czar Ray Kuzbari after hearing from Very Frustrated, the problem had already been solved. Kuzbari’s response:

“We had issues with the traffic signal system that caused the signal controllers along Galindo Street to go out of sync. We corrected the problem just over a week ago and the signals are back to being timed the ‘good way’ again.”

The Jammer checked back with Very Frustrated, who confirmed that the signals are back to the “good way.” Hooray!

COMMUTER: I have conflicting answers for this, so maybe your sources can clear it up. My car has lap seat belts in the rear passenger seats. The auto mechanic says if belts are factory installed, it is legal to have passengers belted with lap belts.

But, an EMT/CPR instructor told me a CHP officer can ticket a driver whose passengers do not have a three point seat belt. What do you think?


TRAFFIC JAMMER: This question seemed like a natural for our ever-reliable and knowledgeable Officer Leo, the Claycordian policeman who helps us out with our questions. Here’s his message:

The only challenge in this question is the age of the car. Basically, if it came as originally designed with lap belts only, you’re OK. You must use them.

A driver is responsible for the passengers, so both can be cited if not properly belted. However, if the vehicle was made with lap belts only, you’re not required to upgrade.

Three-point belts came into being in the late 1950s but didn’t truly develop into standard equipment until about 20 years later. Several inventors contributed to the design. Saab and Volvo are often credited as being the first manufacturers to make them standard equipment.

Three-point belts have proven to be more effective and easy to use, contributing to their standardization.

We are just ending the annual “Click It or Ticket” Campaign of safety belt use. The bad news is that our younger (teen) drivers suffer as the least likely users. The good news is that CLAYCORD has a compliance rate in the 90 percent range. Good job!  But, still, slow down :-)”

TRAFFIC JAMMER: In the last column, frequent commenter Captain Freeway asked two questions: What debris can legally be dumped on the freeway, and what is the significance of the white and orange checkered flags he sees on large utility trucks.

The Jammer answered the first question and invited Claycordians to solve the mystery of the second question. Three readers came up with the answer. The first was Purina Logo, who gets the prize for the fastest response: “I always thought the checkered flags were required to drive around airports, and they just leave them on.”

The other two correct responses: “The flags mean that the truck is working on the airport, FAA rules for visibility,” said I Drive A Bigrig, and Cabbie kindly supplied a link to more information:

Thank you, Purina Logo, I Drive A Bigrig and Cabbie, for solving the mystery!

P.S.: Frequent commenter (and kidder) Antler said, “It means “DIVE … ALL DIVE!!!”

COMMUTER: Since Janis related her favorite vehicle code offense, this is mine…..You may not throw anything out of a moving car except for water and chicken feathers.

California Vehicle Code section 23114 “(a) Except as provided in Subpart I (commencing with Section 393.100) of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations related to hay and straw, a vehicle shall not be driven or moved on any highway unless the vehicle is so constructed, covered, or loaded as to prevent any of its contents or load other than clear water or feathers from live birds from dropping, sifting, leaking, blowing, spilling, or otherwise escaping from the vehicle….”


TRAFFIC JAMMER: This comment, posted by Nytemuvr, bears repeating, with a friendly amendment: Law enforcement is not going to take kindly to you throwing either clear water or chicken feathers out of a moving vehicle. Rather, the only thing that may drop, sift, leak, blow, spill or otherwise escape is clear water or chicken feathers. And, Beloved Claycordians, those feathers must be from a live chicken.

Nytemuvr’s comment in response to the item in the last column prompted this remark from a commenter identifying as, “DeSaulnier and Bonilla are gonna be all over that chicken feather exclusion,” concluding,They will be introducing legislation requiring all chickens to be plucked or wearing parkas while being transported.” OK, whether or not you support either official, you have to admit that’s funny.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: If you think you know what to do in case of a roadblock, think again. Thanks to our beloved Officer Leo for providing this insight:

“From time to time, it’s necessary for the police to shut down roads.  It’s not always convenient, and sometimes it’s not in the best place for a shutdown. About half the time, the reason for the shutdown isn’t always apparent. There could be a “police action” (guns drawn, rapidly unfolding dangerous event) or a power wire in the roadway or a collision or a fire; most people don’t realize how many fire trucks come to a fire – even a small one.

Here are some helpful guidelines: If it’s only one or two police cars in a typical traffic stop configuration, slow down and proceed with caution. If it’s more than that, start planning a different route. In fact, if you see it a block or two ahead, change your route.  Don’t drive up and expect directions or guidance. We are busy.

If an officer is giving directions, don’t stop and ask questions. There’s five cars behind you. Read CLAYCORD or watch the news.

I am consistently amazed at the folks who drive right up or around an obvious scene – oftentimes squeezing thru the smallest gaps – only to find they are blocked in or part of a crime scene.

Folks: Be careful. Think ahead.  Have a Plan B. And like I always say, slow down.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by 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

1 joe citizen June 2, 2014 at 2:08 PM

They changed it because there is very little chance of them writing red light tickets when they are synchronized and they wont fix the problem twice,they did it once to shut people up.Have you noticed a light can stay green all night until you approach it then it wakes up the light to go red before you get there.They know there’s a percentage that run lights and they BANK on it.It is immpossble to go thru the green light on east street crossing willow pass and then get to concord blvd.Its always red for no reason,with a cop hiding by the donut shop right there.There’s a psychology to how a city makes money.

2 Tom June 2, 2014 at 2:57 PM

If all you have to worry about is how long a light stays red or green, you really need to get a life. Learn to focus on things you can control, and quit worrying about petty things.

3 Dorothy June 2, 2014 at 3:04 PM

I just can’t visualize, outside of a Bizzaro cartoon, anyone trying to drive and pluck a live chicken at the same time.

4 jtkatec June 2, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Thanks, Dorothy, for the visual. Wow, and the clucking that would be going on, it would be loud

5 Jerk June 2, 2014 at 4:20 PM

#2 WRONG. It can be controlled.
Also, that piece of crap light at Clayton & Trail crossing (near Maria Ave) needs to NOT be on a Timer. What an ABSOLUTE WASTE when there is nobody insight and you have to wait. LAME.

6 Sam Bo June 2, 2014 at 4:45 PM

The chickens must now wear burkas as per obama.

7 Nelson Muntz June 2, 2014 at 5:22 PM


Chickens are transported on the back of a truck in cages….the wind causes the feathers to fly off.

8 Killjoy June 2, 2014 at 5:24 PM

As a PADI Assistant Instructor, I can certainly assure you that a dive flag is red with a white diagonal stripe. At least the US version is.
The international dive flag is half white and half blue. The blue section has a triangular cut out of it.
FYI PADI stands for Professional Association of Dive Instructors.
Or, more simply put….Put Another Dollar In.
If you want to know the joke, I’ll be happy to share.

9 Frank June 2, 2014 at 8:18 PM

Jerk@ #5:
AMEN!!! This is but one example of the same thing @ Clayton & Claycord, Bailey, Thornwood & really irritating # Clayton & Denkinger Pl. Nothing is more irritating than to wait in a big back-up @ Treat, finally get a green and arrive at Denkinger Pl just in time for a red light. INSANE!!!

10 ClayDen June 2, 2014 at 9:01 PM

I can’t imagine anybody being stupid/careless/clueless/idiotic/irresponsible/(fill in the blank) enough to not wear a seat belt. I think that if you are in an accident and you were not wearing your seat belt that the insurance should only cover the costs that would have been incurred had you been wearing a seat belt, with you being required to pay the remainder (which could easily run into 6 or 7 figures). If you can’t pay, then it’s time for the grey bar hotel to think about your actions.

BTW, the most comfortable seat belt/harness I’ve ever worn were the ones I put in my ’67 Barracuda: a four point harness consisting of a 3″ wide lap belt and double 2″ wide shoulder harness (like those worn in aircraft and race cars – minus the crotch straps). These were all latched together with a single quick release lever. I could reach the fire extinguisher mounted to the roll bar while fully belted in too.

11 Tom June 2, 2014 at 9:14 PM

@ Jerk—-5

Maybe you’re really young, but people wise up through the years.

If you get that bent out of shape over a traffic light, how will you act if something traumatic happens in your life?

Take a chill pill, and learn to wait patiently. Find a better song on the radio. You’ll feel better.

If CA traffic bothers you that much, there are less populated states.

12 peter June 2, 2014 at 10:49 PM

#10 I can’t imagine anyone being as stupid,careless,clueless,idiotic,irresponsible as you are to suggest that there is a way of calculating the cost of an accident wearing a seat belt versus not wearing a seat belt.People wearing a seat belt are at times severely injured in an accident.People wearing a seat belt are sometimes killed in an accident.
It is time for you to step outside your box and look at the whole picture.

13 Antler June 2, 2014 at 11:35 PM

Hi, Killjoy at #8 ….. Nice explanation about the real types of diving flags! I learned a lot.

BUT…….as I am recalling the way the original question about the orange and white checkered flags came up:
FIRST there had been concerns about the legalities of things falling onto roads.

THEN someone wrote about big CHUNKS of things falling off the backs of big trucks and endangering drivers behind them.

FINALLY (and maybe it was from the same commenter) the question was added about the orange and white flags on said big trucks.

SO…..taking in the big picture of allllllll the above factors, and “just kidding” (as Janis realized), I let loose the “DIVE! ALL DIVE!” quip.

I surely learn a lot from…and appreciate…. the research JamminJanis does for us!

14 ClayDen June 2, 2014 at 11:47 PM


So, because it’s hard to calculate, it’s OK to be irresponsible and not wear a seat belt, in which case all of the responsible people who wear their seat belt will pay higher insurance costs? It is possible (though it may not be easy) to develop a system to come up with a reasonable cost.

You are the one who is not looking at “the whole picture.” Every action has a consequence; if you choose to be irresponsible, those of us who behave responsibly should not have to pay for your poor choices.

15 @Tom June 3, 2014 at 9:53 AM


If you get that bent out of shape over someone wanting to improve the traffic lights, how will you act if something traumatic happens in your life?

Take a chill pill, and learn to wait patiently. Find a better song on the radio. You’ll feel better.

16 Tom June 3, 2014 at 10:30 AM

@ Tom——15

My point was “don’t sweat the small stuff.” You’ll get farther in life, personally and professionally.

17 Rick June 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Slower minds merge right

18 Antler June 3, 2014 at 9:42 PM

Be really careful, Rick, or people will start throwing rocks and screaming at you to take it over to Politics! ;-)

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