Interesting California Traffic Stories for December, 2018

Check out some of the interesting news stories and developments affecting California drivers from the past month.

California has big dreams — and they’re stuck in traffic. (Grist)

When environmentalists want hope, they often turn to California, a state taking strong climate action and promising even more, all while maintaining a robust economy. But the state is also a home of car culture, high-schoolers cruising down mainstreet, lowriders parading, and Angelenos telling each other how to take the 10 to the 405. It’s built on a foundation of squat, sprawling development connected by jam-packed freeways.

And, according to a new report, California is dreaming if it hopes to achieve its climate goals with all that driving. The state is “moving in the wrong direction” when it comes to transportation, its biggest source of emissions, according to the California Air Resources Board, a state agency.

Californians are driving more, burning more gas, and spewing out more pollution from their tailpipes. That’s because the state has failed to take the kind of actions needed to get people out of their cars. By 2030, the state wants to get greenhouse gases 40 percent below 1990 levels. And outgoing Governor Jerry Brown has set a far tougher goal: Making the state carbon neutral by 2045. [Read more…]

Napa Police get $100,000 to enforce traffic laws (Napa Valley Register)

The Napa Police Department will receive $100,000 from the state for traffic safety enforcement and education programs through September 2019.

The grant, which was awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, will allow police to conduct more patrols and checkpoints for impaired drivers, and identify repeat offenders. It will also go toward ensuring drivers comply with seat belt, car seat, speeding, red light and stop sign laws, according to a press release.

Officers will conduct motorcycle safety operations in places where crashes tend to occur, and patrol intersections where many pedestrian and bike incidents occur. [Read more…]

Study: California drivers the worst in US (WILX 10) has ranked the best and worst states for drivers, related to cost, safety and driving quality.

The Golden State ranked worst in the nation and it's not just because of the long wait times.

According to the study, 44 percent of roads in California are in poor condition.

The state also has more thefts, and higher insurance premiums, repair costs and gas prices than the national averages. [Read more…]

How many of these California driving laws did you already know? (Mercury News)

– A personalized license-plate number can be re-issued if the previous owner has given up the rights to it. But an owner can retain those rights even if the plates are not in use, but hanging on a garage wall.

– Vehicles owned by fire departments can park next to fire hydrants, and a licensed driver can as well if the motorist is in the front seat and poised to scat should authorities need to douse some flames.

– Caltrans is not supposed to use flares on roadways during so-called red flag days, when winds are high and humidity is low. A Caltrans flare likely caused the Canyon fires last year in Orange County and beyond.

– Double-yellow lines on freeways are becoming double-whites because the federal government tired of giving California waivers on adhering to national standards, meant to be familiar to even non-local drivers. Those lines are going from four to six inches wide, too, per Uncle Sam’s desires. [Read more…]

California cops invented a new maneuver to pull over sleeping Tesla drivers on Autopilot (Quartz)

How do you pull over a sleeping driver traveling 70 mph down the freeway? The California Highway Patrol invented what it says is in a new maneuver, after an officer pulled up beside a speeding car at 3:30 am on Nov. 30 on Highway 101 near Redwood City, California, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The driver behind the wheel was not responding to the highway patrol officers’ flashing lights and sirens. After calling for assistance, the officers decided to pull in front of the car to slow it down. By gradually reducing their speed, the Tesla, believed to be driven at the time by the car’s semi-autonomous Autopilot software, reduced its own speed and came to a stop several miles later, not far from Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto.

The driver was brought to the police station for a DUI investigation, and the vehicle was driven off the highway by an officer. A highway patrol spokesperson told the LA Times that “considering the vehicle’s ability to slow to a stop when Samek was asleep, it appears the ‘driver assist’ feature may have been active at the time,” although it was not confirmed if Autopilot was engaged. [Read more…]

DMV Reminds Drivers To ‘Save The Space’ for Those With Disabilities (CBS Sacramento)

With the holiday season upon us, many shopping centers and malls are packed with more shoppers than normal all fighting for the best parking spot.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles reminded Californians to “save the space” designated for disabled individuals who legally display their disabled person parking placards.

“With parking at a premium during the holiday season, it is important to remember that misusing a disabled person parking placard is not only against the law, but it negatively impacts the mobility of those with disabilities,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said. “The DMV is committed to curbing fraud and will give offenders the gift of a citation. So, I ask you to save the space.”

The DMV reported that last month investigators caught 132 people across the state fraudulently using disabled person parking placards during 21 enforcement operations.

In the incidents of fraud, the offenders’ placards were confiscated and were issued a misdemeanor citation carrying a fine ranging from $250 to $1,000. [Read more…]

Temporary portable rumble strips alert drivers in California work zone (Roads & Bridges)

Road-Tech Safety Services Inc., located in Shingle Springs, Calif., about 40 miles east of Sacramento, provides equipment rental and sales, traffic control supplies, and traffic control services to the highway construction industry.

Last summer, Road-Tech provided traffic control services for a Calaveras County Water District project at the intersection of California S.R. 26 and Vista Del Lago Drive. The two-month project involved laying water pipes across S.R. 26. As such, the traffic control plans called for lane shifts of one and two lanes.

Early in the project, Ben Jeffrey, Road-Tech Traffic Control Supervisor, noticed that most drivers were traveling through the work zone about 20 mph over the posted 45 mph speed limit.

Jeffrey has long observed seemingly counter-intuitive behavior from distracted drivers: they attempt to maintain their speed throughout a work zone, regardless of whether they exceed the posted speed limit. They do so because they are distracted; they are not focused on their surroundings.

Jeffrey and crew also estimated that about 30% of the drivers were actively using their cell phones while driving through the work zone. The combination of excessive speeds and distracted drivers could lead to serious crashes, and perhaps fatalities. [Read more…]

Gas prices in San Diego and nationwide decline (CBS 8)

After months of spiking prices, gas is finally taking a much-needed plunge.

"Well, I hope they go lower,” said one gas shopper on Sunday.

“It would be nice for it to get back to the $2s again,” said another.

Well, we're not anywhere near $2 a gallon with the average cost for a regular gallon of gas in San Diego at $3.41.

But that's around 30 cents less than just a month ago.

According to AAA, one reason for the drop is the United States' record-breaking production levels, which hit the highest level ever recorded by the Energy Information Administration. [Read more…]

CHP Warns Drivers Against Dangerous Auto-Pilot Loophole (NBC Los Angeles)

The California Highway Patrol is warning drivers of vehicles with auto-pilot technology about a dangerous and potentially deadly loophole.

Some people are posting YouTube tutorials showing a "hack" of a vehicle's auto-pilot setting using a water bottle strapped to the steering wheel. The videos are promoting the trick as a way to turn auto-pilot into a fully autonomous, as the water bottle fools the car’s sensors into thinking the driver still has their hands on the steering wheel.

The auto-pilot mode is programmed to alert drivers if their hands are off the wheel too long, in case they’re no longer paying attention. "You have to put some resistance on it. Otherwise, it complains at you," one video says.

The CHP says anyone caught using one of the tricks and driving carelessly will be cited. [Read more…]

California Approves a 15-hour Minimum Driver Training Requirement for CDLs (Transport Topics)

California legislators have passed a bill requiring that entry-level truck drivers spend at least 15 hours in training behind the wheel to be eligible for a commercial driver license.

The California driver-training requirement is more stringent than one adopted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in December 2016.

“This measure will ensure that drivers of big rigs and other large vehicles have the necessary experience to drive safely on our streets and roads by establishing a minimum number of behind-the-wheel training hours,” Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning said in a statement last month. “These stronger training standards will save lives.”

FMCSA’s rule only requires that the training provider not issue a certificate to a driver until the driver has demonstrated proficiency in performing all driving skills. It carries a compliance date of Feb. 7, 2020, and does not require a minimum number of hours of classroom instruction. [Read more…]

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