Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Covering Your Load, Carpool Lane Violators, The Most Dangerous Things You Can Do While Driving + MORE

September 19, 2016 14:00 pm · 28 comments


Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every first and third Monday at 2 p.m. on

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every first and third Monday of the month at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.

Email your questions to

COMMUTER: It’s my understanding that it’s every driver’s responsibility to secure and cover their load. But lately I’ve been seeing signs on backs of work trucks that say something like “Stay back 100 feet, not responsible for broken windshields.” Isn’t that a lie, or does having that sign really release them of liability?


TRAFFIC JAMMER: We at Claycord are lucky to have many experts who share their knowledge, and “Retired Fuzz,” a helpful retired law enforcement officer, explained that the sign is wrong and the company has to pay.

This question involves the Jammer’s favorite section of the Vehicle Code. (Yes, it’s weird to have a favorite section of the Vehicle Code.) We are referring to Section 23114(a), which commands that vehicles must be loaded so as to prevent their contents “from dropping, sifting, blowing, spilling or otherwise escaping from the vehicle.

That’s nicely written, eh? All those action verbs! Oh, Vehicle Code, how I love thee! But the best is yet to come. The only exception: “clear water or feathers from live birds.” To be honest, just the other day the Jammer gleefully emptied the last few drops of her water bottle out the window of her car, just to take advantage.

Commuter: I drive from Martinez to San Jose five mornings a week, sometimes as early as 5 a.m., and then around 3 p.m. in the afternoon. The freeway is congested, especially on the way home, and often I get passed by someone driving alone in the carpool lane. It’s maddening.


TRAFFIC JAMMER: First of all, Disgusted, you deserve a Bay Area Transportation Martyr award for this hellish commute. The Jammer has no doubt everyone reading this column feels for you. Second of all, this unfortunately appears to fall into the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change” category. However, if there is a specific stretch on your route where you see the miscreants, please share it, and maybe one of the law enforcement officers who reads this column will take note.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: And now, Beloved Claycordians, another quiz! Share your answer to this question and get your name in the column: What are the three most dangerous things you can do while driving? The best and first answers will be honored in the column October 3.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: One final educational note:

COMMUTER: I get the impression from the behavior of some motorists in Concord that they are not aware that there are exceptions  to the Vehicle Code rule that bicycle traffic is to stay to the right. Exceptions:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions … that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge….

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

–Member of Bike Concord

TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week. Be sure to cruise by at 2pm on the first and third Mondays of the month for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART, County Connection or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.

Send your questions to

I'm The Urban Spaceman September 19, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Texting, Putting on makeup, engaging in carnal relations, talking to one’s Mother-in-Law.
I have 4.

Anonymous September 19, 2016 at 2:23 PM

That “not responsible if I break your windshield because something falls off my truck” is bunk.

anon666 September 19, 2016 at 2:32 PM

My friend borrowed my truck this weekend to go camping. Got a text from him when he got back that I had a nice new chip in it from a rock that was kicked up from a truck. It’s already spreading so now it’s getting a new windshield tomorrow. It already needed one so I didn’t really care, but I also didn’t feel like spending $200 for one right now. It’s only the 3rd windshield I’ve replaced in the last 22 years, so that’s not too bad.

J. September 19, 2016 at 2:34 PM

1- Reading while driving
2- Putting on makeup
3- Texting
4- Sleeping
5- Eating chips and dip with the big ‘ol bowl on your lap
6- Taking Tequila belly shots

Eat food September 19, 2016 at 2:42 PM

They are responsible, but you have to stop them and get a police report

Tell it Like it is September 19, 2016 at 2:54 PM

1) Dialing cell phone
2) Reading or writing something (including texting)
3) Reaching for something

chuckie the troll September 19, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Question: We were driving behind a Concord Police officer yesterday. He/she was swerving while coming to a stop and obviously texting while driving. We made sure to stay well back from the car because we were afraid they would hit another car. Are police officers allowed to text while driving?

@Chuckie the Troll, #7 September 19, 2016 at 3:14 PM

You can rest assured the officer was texting on official business. Trust me. Likely had something to do with “the interest of justice”.

AJ September 19, 2016 at 3:18 PM

Get Road rage

Cowellian September 19, 2016 at 3:26 PM

(3) Did you ever dream you were driving down the highway, and wake up to discover you were?

(2) BRB Something came up

(1) Hold my beer and watch this!

ClayDen September 19, 2016 at 3:44 PM

Texting or reading.
Driving below the speed limit in the fast lane.
Dozing off.

John Pope September 19, 2016 at 4:03 PM

Mooning the solo driver in the car pool lane.

Cowellian September 19, 2016 at 4:05 PM

Can a Police Officer Text/Talk While Driving?

For those of you who like to drive around and wave your finger at an officer for texting while driving, I have some words of wisdom for you. Don’t do it. California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5 prohibits drivers from texting while driving. Subsection (e) of this code creates an exemption for a “emergency services professional … while operating an authorized emergency vehicle”

More from Ruyle of Law:

I used to work nights, in San Fran September 19, 2016 at 4:13 PM

and a few times, driving home to Concord, I woke up to find I’d passed my turnoff. THAT was frightening, and ever since, when I feel drowsy, I just find a place to pull over and grab a quick 10 minute nap. Refreshing, and life saving.

Laura Zah September 19, 2016 at 4:18 PM

On Friday a 82 year old driver was headed northbound on U.S. Highway 101 in Menlo Park, just north of Palo Alto when a very large metal nut (like nut & bolt) crashed though his windshield and struck him in the neck. He crashed & died.

Melanie September 19, 2016 at 4:42 PM

Three most dangerous:

1. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

2. Reading, writing, texting, etc.

3. Driving while sleepy.

Atticus Thraxx September 19, 2016 at 5:01 PM

Toe nail clipping. I sh*t you not. In Solano County so I’m not sure it qualifies for the prize. There’s a prize,right?

Grewah September 19, 2016 at 5:54 PM

1. Talking, texting on cell
2. Putting on makeup or shaving.
3. I would put eating here but lately I think it is watching videos on your phone or tablet

Kirkwood September 19, 2016 at 6:16 PM

Last week I saw a motorcycle with a handicap license plate. I wonder what his handicap is?

Just wondering September 19, 2016 at 6:23 PM

Unfortunately LEO ARE allowed to do stuff regular folks can’t. Apparently as soon as you get a badge you become more aware of your surroundings, have faster reflexes, etc. LEO can get away with murder…wait, some do.

True story. An officer in Illinois was in a high speed chase, talking on the phone w his girlfriend, and typing on his cruiser’s laptop. He swerved across the grass median killing two girls on their way to the mall. And he had the NERVE to apply for workers comp.

Sandy G. September 19, 2016 at 7:47 PM

Years ago I had my windshield cracked by a rock coming off a gravel truck. I called the trucking company who referred me to their lawyers, who told me there was no way they were paying for the windshield. I asked if they would pay the $50 deductible. No way. Told me to take them to court and they still wouldn’t pay. So I had the windshield replaced. I kid you not, five days after I got the new windshield, the SAME trucking broke my windshield again. I called the owner and told him if it happened again, I was running his truck off the road.

Not Responsible September 19, 2016 at 7:47 PM

Assuming they have proper mudflaps, truck drivers are not responsible for rocks kicked up from the road by their tires. That’s what those signs are about.

rofl September 19, 2016 at 10:35 PM

So.. bicycles can be on the ROAD. Don’t say that to loud because you will make all the nut ball drivers claim they should not even sell bikes or they can not drive by a bike rider without killing them or some such thing. LOL

Anon September 20, 2016 at 8:01 AM

Sandy G….the same thing happened to my dad, years ago. They basically said, “Sue us.”. He didn’t want to take time off work to do that, so he just replaced the windshield himself. Sad, but that’s how the world is, I guess.

Old-School Guy September 20, 2016 at 8:24 AM

1) Don’t drive slow in the fast lane
2) Don’t drive slow in the fast lane
3) Don’t drive slow in the fast lane

Some people on the highway have guns and will use them

Kenji September 20, 2016 at 8:42 AM

Not only CAN bicyclists ride on the road, that is the only legal place we can ride in a great deal of Concord and most of Walnut Creek. Bicycling on the sidewalk is left to local jurisdictions by the California Vehicle Code. Concord Municipal Code prohibits bicycling on sidewalks in front of stores, schools, and businesses used for business purposes. (E.g. most of Monument Blvd and a great deal of Clayton Rd.) Walnut Creek Municipal Code prohibits it anywhere except most of Treat Blvd and Ygnacio Valley Rd.

So if you are a driver and wish a bicyclist on the road ahead of you would ride on the sidewalk instead, please bear in mind that you may be wishing for them to break the law.

Doh September 20, 2016 at 10:32 AM

Decades ago in high school I was taught that if something fell off a truck it was my responsibility to be able to stop in time. In that example it was a large box. Laws and court cases may have changed that if the driver doesn’t take a reasonable effort to secure their load.

In those days cars and trucks were required to have mud flaps if the body was above the center of the wheel. Apparently that law doesn’t exist anymore or it’s not enforced which makes t the same thing. I have had lots of rocks kick up and damage my windshields.

jtkatec September 20, 2016 at 11:22 AM

In the category of items falling off of trucks, once I witnessed a box of Girl Scout cookies fall off a truck, and boy, did I get sick of peanut butter cookies.

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