Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Turning Right on Red, Driving with Pot, Signaling Before Turning + MORE

April 3, 2017 14:00 pm · 51 comments

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:  I was standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross. I dutifully waited until the white “walking man” symbol appeared. As I stepped into the crosswalk an oncoming car started to coast through the intersection making a right on red without stopping!

I realized the driver wasn’t going to stop and jumped back on the curb just in time.

What is wrong with people?

Just Made It

TRAFFIC JAMMER: It’s interesting that you bring this up, because State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) early this year introduced SB 493, which would lower the fine for folks who fail to come to a stop before making a right on red. The amount would drop from around $500 to around $250.

Claycordians, what do you think? Would keeping the fine higher help prevent scenarios like the one Just Made It endured (and managed to survive)?

Oh, and please remember – while right on red is legal, first you must come to a complete stop.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Recently in this column, the Jammer noted that it is against the law in California to drive with an open container of marijuana in the car. A reader asked:

COMMUTER: Does anyone have a citation to the law that states that it is “not legal to have an open container of pot in a car?”

Or is this something just made up?


TRAFFIC JAMMER:  One of the great things about Claycord is the number of smart people who read the blog. After this question was asked in the comments section, Rollo Tomasi kindly provided a link to Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana in California but also included some restrictions on its use.

The Jammer is grateful to Rollo, however, the pertinent section of the law is on Page 58 of the PDF and it’s a bit onerous to scroll down to it.

So, Hoofnagel, click on this link to California’s Health and Safety Code and scroll down to Section 11362.3. This section states that it is illegal to:

” (4) Possess an open container or open package of marijuana or marijuana products while driving, operating, or riding in the passenger seat or compartment of a motor vehicle, boat, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle used for transportation.” (LINK)

COMMUTER: Do I still have to signal for a left turn if I’m in a left-turn-only lane?


TRAFFIC JAMMER: Leftist, this is a question that comes up from time to time. The Jammer realizes it doesn’t seem to make sense, but yes: You must signal continuously during the last 100 feet traveled before turning.

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


RS April 3, 2017 at 2:07 PM

On the left turn issue needing a turn indicator, if you are in a solid white lined turn lane controlled by a light you do not have to have a turn indicator on.
This one is your lane of traffic and to very anywhere outside of that lane is illegal. For those that like to cut In After the light changes that does count as a moving violation and a illegal lane change

Mika April 3, 2017 at 2:34 PM

Obvioulsy the $500 fine wasn’t stopping all the idiots from giving peds the right of way. Don’t lower the fine, ticket the violators!

anontwo April 3, 2017 at 2:36 PM

Hi “Just-Made-It”: I am always looking-out for pedestrians when I drive and especially when I turn. Help me out by making eye contact with the driver before you step off the curb. I’ll do the same for you. Be Safe Out There.

Hi “Leftist” You asked a good question. However, why not signal before every change of lane or turn. It shows me you are alert and planning ahead. I know I would appreciate it. Please turn off the turn signal after the lane change. I have to be careful in my Impala, the turn signal clicker is very soft.

Drvrdadca April 3, 2017 at 2:55 PM

@RS – please direct me to where in the vehicle code it states that you do not need to use your turn signal when in a dedicated left turn lane. As TJ states, you must use a turn signal (for the last 100 feet traveled) whenever you are making a turn, which also means changing lanes.

BTW – You one blinker and done folks, this does not constitute using your signal.

One last item – A turn indicator is asking permission to change direction, it does not give you any right to do so.

Reality says... April 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM

What are they doing at the Concord BART? Claycord is usually good about advising the locals when there will be BART work taking place but I don’t recall hearing anything.

Schmee April 3, 2017 at 3:16 PM

Pedestrians are pedestrian. Get a car!

Simonpure April 3, 2017 at 3:39 PM

When at a left turn lane only and just waiting for the light I do not signal. Lamps, relays and switches have a life span. When the light turns green I then turn on my signal. Haven’t had to replace anything in 6 years and over 60K in mileage. Just me.

Be Aware April 3, 2017 at 3:45 PM

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month.

RS April 3, 2017 at 3:45 PM

That was the conclusion from a Judge when I was written up for that by a over aggressive officer. He even showed up at court and testified to that.
The judge through it out instantly stating just that. It is my lane of travel and any other change of direction at that point would have been a violation. White lines and a protected turn on green

Turn and burn April 3, 2017 at 4:06 PM

@ Drvrdadca Thank you!!

WhoDat? April 3, 2017 at 4:09 PM

Simple question. People are either in a hurry, distracted by some device in their car, or homicidal. My daughter was clipped by some jackass who coasted thru a stop sign while she was jogging. He was in a hurry, the sun was in his eyes, and she didn’t make eye contact to be sure he saw her and was going to stop. She survived, but got a nasty cut over her eye. I always make a read on what drivers are planning to do, both when walking and driving, to make as sure as possible they’re going to follow the rules of the road. I stay out of the way of those who don’t.

WhoDat? April 3, 2017 at 4:14 PM

#4 is right. I had a run-in with some jerk who did not signal left from Oakland to Clayton Road. I was turning left from Alpine Pastry to Clayton Road, and couldn’t tell the SOB was in a turn lane so I waited for him. He started to make the turn and I called him a nasty name. He stopped, backed up and came after me. I pulled over and was ready to take him on when a cop car pulled up. The officer had seen what had happened and she actually had a history with the creep, calling him by name. She told me to go on and was lecturing the crap out of the jerk when I left.

FCA April 3, 2017 at 4:32 PM

Turn signals seem to be optional equipment for most vehicles in CA. Please order that option for any new car you get. It will help others to know your intentions.

Cautiously Informed April 3, 2017 at 5:34 PM

About half the drivers in California should have their drivers lincense’s revoked permanently. That amount would pretty much cover all the wreckless, thoughtless self centered and habitualy distracted drivers. Also, it would cover the mental midget drivers who don’t even seem to posses a sense of self preservation.

Cowellian April 3, 2017 at 5:48 PM

Wreckless drivers are the best drivers. And revoking the licenses of half of California’s drivers would only mean a lot more unlicensed drivers on the road.

Cautiously Informed April 3, 2017 at 6:08 PM

Wreckless drivers the best drivers? Where? On fantasty-land prime time TV? Also, more unlicensed drivers on the road? With the amount of them out there now, what difference would that make? Less license renewal fees for DMV?

Dr. Jellyfinger April 3, 2017 at 6:09 PM

What I really hate is when some timid driver arrives at the 4 way stop before I do & refuses to take the right of way & just go…. oh no…. too easy…. he just has to sit there, wait for me to come to a complete stop & then have a panic attack trying to decide whether he should go first or wait for me to go …. then he waves me on but by that time another car has arrived, started to go & stopped & then everybody is just sitting there like 3 morons who never had a driving lesson so I start to go but so does the timid dipsh*t who started the problem & driver # 3 is getting pissed so he starts to go & I have to slam my brakes and all 3 of us are waving each other on when driver #4 arrives & starts honking … so I get all road raged & peel out flipping off the timid a-hole driver #1 who is waving with both hands at everyone to go, just in time for a motorcycle cop to happen by, see me & figure I’m the guy to blame for complete gridlock at Marsh Creek & Center St!

Right turns issue April 3, 2017 at 6:30 PM

Re; Right turns and pedestrians:
I always wait for the peds to cross, but what I HATE is when I’m waiting to make my right turn and they’re just strolling very slowly across, looking at their cell phones, not giving a darn that someone’s waiting for them. I’m pretty sure you have to wait for them to get all the way across before you can legally go. I always wait for the ones coming toward me to get on the sidewalk…can’t afford the ticket from the cop in the unmarked cop car!

CalOldBlue April 3, 2017 at 6:31 PM

Cautiously Informed.

Ponder the linguistic difference between reckless and wreckless.

Cowellian April 3, 2017 at 6:31 PM

I’ll let somebody else explain “wreckless” to you.

But the unlicensed driver issue is a major one, especially in California. Higher fines have made more people choose to ignore their tickets, so their licenses have been revoked. The most recent data I’ve seen was several years ago, but it was estimated that 1 in 17 California drivers were unlicensed. Since the state no longer impounds the cars of unlicensed drivers, there is little reason for many people to care whether they are licensed or insured.

So, do you feel safer having more and more unlicensed drivers on the road?

Alf April 3, 2017 at 6:44 PM

I’m puffing a joint while texting my drug dealer and writing this post. Oops, forgot my turn signal…Welcome to Californiastan…

ClayDen April 3, 2017 at 7:01 PM

@Cowellian #15

Agree! Apparently Cautiously Informed has difficulty with the English language.

I just assume everyone is an incompetent or distracted driver and I’m usually proven right. One thing that really ticks me off is people who don’t understand that you can and usually should push pretty hard on the right pedal when merging onto the freeway. If you are too timid or inept to do so, please stay off of the freeway.

Ancient Mariner April 3, 2017 at 7:08 PM

@ Cautiously Informed No. 16:
Observe the spelling: ‘wreck … less’, not ‘reckless’.

Frank April 3, 2017 at 8:02 PM

I agree!! Also, it’s annoying to the nth degree when it’s dark to have to put up with a BRIGHT turn signal scorching your eyeballs like a laser .

Cautiously Informed April 3, 2017 at 10:24 PM

Wreckless vs. reckless? Is that the best you guys can come up with, argument wise for the topic?

Cautiously Informed April 3, 2017 at 10:37 PM

So what’s your point? Bad drivers shouldn’t be cited so they won’t have fines to pay? Then more of them will maintain their licenses and buy insurance?

I'm The Urban Spaceman April 3, 2017 at 10:37 PM


I’m intrigued by the weed issue, as an open container of alcohol is pretty cut and dried, unlike marijuana. On second thought, weed is usually cut and dried, but I digress.
What constitutes an open container of Marijuana? ¿Is a sealed baggie or glass jar with a lid on it considered a closed container?

Cowellian – Good one.

nibly April 3, 2017 at 11:08 PM

People make mistakes. Sometimes they can’t see yyou if the sun is out or it is dark out. You have to protect yourself. Make eye contact with driver before eber attemping to cross. Your bad too!

valiii April 4, 2017 at 12:11 AM

Hello, #16 was making a comment that “wreckless” is the exact opposite of the word you meant, “reckless”….
Also, regarding signaling in left turn lanes…
It is safer for oncoming traffic if they are reminded that you are turning!
Those little lights generally last 10 years or more, so the cost of the bulb shouldn’t be a deterrent to this basic safety practice!

valiii April 4, 2017 at 12:13 AM

I meant that #15 was making a comment.

JazzMan April 4, 2017 at 5:31 AM

@25 Blue2e2. You’re probably the one who tries to squeeze in EB24/N680 after the gore point. Get in line like everyone else.

@Drvrdadca. Yes! Thank you!

Just a comment. I’m actually reading/writing while on my vacation to NY city. Fortunately I’m not driving. Drivers are FREAKIN’ CRAZY here! Pedestrians have NO rights, and you by law you cannot make a right turn on red. Still, pedestrians cross against the light, everyone walks with face in their phone (can’t see how they are aware of their surroundings), if people did in California some of the things I’ve seen in NY (especially in Oakland) they’d be shot, road raged, or ticketed in a second. In some way makes me appreciate California. Although it seems to be universal to. Or use turn signals.

JazzMan April 4, 2017 at 5:32 AM

Oops . Should read “to not use turn signals.” 🙄

anon April 4, 2017 at 6:16 AM

Dr. J: That is some funny stuff. Thank you.

Cowellian April 4, 2017 at 7:29 AM

California made a conscious decision to drastically raise traffic fines, and then added massive fees on top of the fines. The unintended consequences of that action is the large number of people who can’t, or won’t, pay their tickets, and then have their licenses revoked.

California made another conscious decision to no longer impound cars of unlicensed drivers. We know that the motives for that decision were pure political pandering and were never intended to improve public safety. That genie is out of the bottle, and I can’t imagine the State will ever try to re-institute that policy.

So I guess my point is that you will need to understand that you are surrounded by people who don’t care about your safety, and make your driving decisions accordingly.

js April 4, 2017 at 8:31 AM

You should always look out for bikes….as they do not look at you while biking…people crossing the street…they have the right of way….and police
as sometimes they get a call and need to turn in front of you…and you need to be a responsible person and be watching to help all…especially the police that get a call and need to get moving….its not all about you behind the wheel ….you need to be more responsible when driving….and do not drive so fast down clayton road to a red lite…its not going to change just because you are driving fast towards it….

chuckie the troll April 4, 2017 at 9:16 AM

I am definitely in the camp that wants to keep the current fines for people who roll through red lights and stop signs.

As a pedestrian, I have had to jump back or run out of the way of drivers rolling through both. As a driver, I have had the same problem. I actually had the wife of a lawyer I know try to claim she had the R/W when I had the left turn green and she had the right turn red.

People are is such a hurry to run each other over and get into accidents these days!

jerry metz April 4, 2017 at 9:39 AM

so many people go thru red lights and stop signs and are always on their cell its scary. i bike and always make eye contact before i move. bottom line is these yahoos only care about themselves so be on the defense because it won’t get better and these are the same people who will claim that it is never their fault.

Cautiously Informed April 4, 2017 at 9:56 AM

I agree, especially the political pandering part. Good point.

Mimi (original) April 4, 2017 at 10:56 AM

Love this column!! Not all the responses, but definitely the information Traffic Jammer imparts! Thank you!

Rollo Tomasi April 4, 2017 at 11:46 AM

While making a right turn against a red light, not only must you yield to pedestrians but also to every other vehicle at the intersection who has the right of way.

A great example of this can be found at the intersection of Treat Blvd and North Main. It’s highly entertaining to watch how many drivers making a legal U turn from westbound Treat to eastbound Treat have to slam on their brakes mid-turn because the asshats turning right from North Main think all they have to do is stop before turning.

Gary April 4, 2017 at 12:04 PM

It is absolutely amazing how many people on this thread do not know how to spell .

Turn and burn April 4, 2017 at 12:42 PM

I always tried to respect bikers but not anymore . The other day I was making a right turn onto Farm Bureau from Concord Blvd. when a bicyclist came along beside me and told me I can’t be in the Bike lane when turning right onto Farm Bureau. Then he rode up to the car in front of me and I’m guessing told them the same thing. The light turned green and we all turned onto FB. Well, I caught up to the bicyclists as we approached the 4 way stop sign. What does he do? Ride on through not even stopping. So I proceed to slow down and tell him how he can’t roll on through a stop sign. He never even looked at me. Looked it up, and I didn’t break any laws.

Turn and burn April 4, 2017 at 12:56 PM

Also it was a broken white line. Allowing you to turn.

Kirkwood April 4, 2017 at 1:11 PM

The other day I saw a CA license plate that had the white background painted brown with the blue characters outlined in black. Nicely done although I could see orange peel in the shiny clear-coat. Car was a BMW.

Is that legal?

Kenji April 4, 2017 at 1:54 PM

@Turn and burn #45 & #46 – You are correct, merging into the bicycle lane for a right turn is what the Vehicle Code prescribes. It’s supposed to be done 200 to 50 feet before the intersection, yielding to any traffic (i.e. bicycle traffic) already in the bicycle lane. I assume you did so yield, and the bicyclist who lectured you came up well after you had already merged into the bicycle lane for your turn. If so, that bicyclist was mistaken and you were in the right.

Turn and burn April 4, 2017 at 2:48 PM

Yes Kenji. He rolled up to us after we had been waiting to turn right. I think he was upset because we blocked his flow so he had to wait like the rest of us to turn.

Abbie R. April 4, 2017 at 4:51 PM

Why do I need a Turn signal when I already know where I’m going?

Kenji April 5, 2017 at 8:31 AM

The correct behavior for a bicyclist in that situation (approaching an intersection in a bicycle lane with the lane blocked ahead by a right-turning car) is to pass that car on the left, either by riding between that car and the ones in the adjacent lane to the left, or by occupying the center of the adjacent lane to the left.

It can be frightening for a bicyclist who is not highly confident or skilled. That’s why standard intersection design in the one place in the world where per-trip bicycling rates exceed 30% nationally (the Netherlands) is to fully separate both the movements and travel spaces of bicycle and motor traffic at intersections. Eliminates this issue entirely, saves a lot of deaths and injuries, and makes bicycling safe and comfortable enough so that motor traffic volumes actually decrease due to a large number of people choosing to bicycle instead of drive for lots of trips.

Pedestrian April 5, 2017 at 10:02 AM

Leave the fine at $500.00. I actually had this happen to me walking to work this morning. The white “walking man” symbol appeared ,and I started across the street. About 1/4 of the way across, someone made a right turn on the other side of the street. When I was 1/2 was across, another car approached the intersection and turned in front of me without stopping. I had some choice words for them as they sped by-wished I’d had coffee or something to throw on their white car. I mean really? Your life is so important that you can’t wait the 10 seconds it would have taken me to finish crossing the street? People are a**holes.

Morales April 5, 2017 at 11:57 AM

I guess Sen. Hill thinks $500 is unfair and creates hardship for the less fortunate, just like some cry bails are set too high.

Pedestrian April 5, 2017 at 3:13 PM

Wow. Happened again walking home from work today. I came very close to being hit by someone making a right turn at the same intersection. If I had stepped out any farther, I would have.

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