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Interesting California Traffic Stories for June, 2018

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

6 Benicia Artists To Beautify City's Traffic Signal Boxes (Benicia Patch)

Benicia artists of every age are transforming traffic signal controller boxes this month with a diverse array of paintings. The artists had their designs approved by the Benicia City Council earlier this year, according to the city. [Read more…]

On city streets, slower traffic should stay right: Roadshow (The Mercury News)

The rule of the road on freeways is that slower traffic must keep right, allowing faster drivers to proceed at a pace comfortable for them. Should that rule apply to city streets also?

It is very frustrating to be driving on a multi-lane highway like Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont and be stuck behind a rolling roadblock of road boulders driving 5 mph below the posted speed limit. I realize that slower drivers would need to move into the left lane when preparing for a left turn. But, until then shouldn’t they stay right? [Read more…]

Toll lanes on the Yolo Causeway? State begins tackling I-80 bottlenecks with creative ideas (The Sacramento Bee)

Commuters and weekend drivers alike have complained for years about traffic bottlenecks on Interstate 80 near the city of Davis and across the Yolo Causeway.

State highway officials say it's time to talk about a fix — a dramatic one.

A 16-mile widening of the freeway through Yolo and Solano counties is among the early ideas Caltrans will showcase during a trio of public meetings this month. [Read more…]

Self-Driving Cars Can Now Pick Up Passengers in California—But Only for Free Rides (Gizmodo)

California has announced a new pilot program that will allow self-driving cars to start moving normal customers around, a first for the state. Among the California Public Utilities Commission’s many stipulations, transportation companies providing autonomous rides must offer the service at no charge to passengers. A free ride in a metal cage operated by nascent self-driving technology? Sounds like a great deal.

The authorization actually encompasses two pilot programs: one approving passengers to ride in autonomous service vehicles with a trained driver at the wheel, and another allowing passengers to ride in completely unmanned autonomous service vehicles. The proposal explicitly forbids “monetary charges” for passengers, though that could mean participants might be required to sign up for a particular service or use a companion app. [Read more…]

California’s Heavy-Handed Plan To Regulate The Self-Driving Car Biz (Wired)

California began to approve special permits for totally driver-free vehicles in April. Which means it’s time for the Golden State to think about regulation.

That means running headlong into some of thorniest questions about driverless taxi services. What’s the safest way to roll them out? How should you regulate a technology that’s not “finished,” and never will be? What does the public need to know?

The commission’s answers, as presented by its proposed program, are not what companies like Waymo were hoping for. It wouldn’t allow companies to charge for rides, take passengers to or from the airport, or run shared, “pooled” rides. It would require any specific vehicle carrying passengers to first undergo 90 days of on-road testing. It would demand reams of data from developers: miles traveled, miles traveled without passengers (aka “deadheading” miles), collision and disengagement reports, and transcriptions of any communications between riders and driverless vehicles’ remote operators within 24 hours. [Read more…]

Watch NASCAR Drivers Hilariously Struggle To Pass California Driver’s Test (NESN)

One would assume that since Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers make a living driving at breakneck speeds, they also would be very attuned to the rules of the road. But that is not the case. BuzzFeed had drivers Daniel Suarez and William Byron try to pass a California driving test, and the results were hilariously bad. []

Apple’s self-driving car fleet grows to 55 in California (TechCrunch)

Apple now has 55 self-driving cars registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, compared to 27 earlier this year and just three last year. That means Apple has the second largest fleet of self-driving cars in California, Mac Reports first pointed out.

Apple now has more cars registered than Waymo, which has 51, according to the California DMV. General Motor’s Cruise, however, leads the pack with 104 vehicles. In total, the DMV has provided to 53 companies permits for self-driving cars that include safety drivers, resulting in a total of 409 vehicles and 1,573 safety drivers. [Read more…]

Digital License Plate Pilot Brings New Opportunities to California’s Capital (GovTech)

The digital license plate on display outside Sacramento City Hall on Monday does a lot of things other technology can already do. It allows drivers — or, in the case of the city, fleet managers — to renew their registration online, a feature the state Department of Motor Vehicles already offers. It allows the city to see where its vehicles have been and how many miles they’ve traveled. It can access the car’s computer, just like any device that can plug into an OBDII port.

But there are a few new things the plates are bringing to the table, Sacramento Chief Innovation Officer Louis Stewart told reporters at a press conference Monday morning. Using the same kind of display found in popular e-readers, they can show customized messages at a moment’s notice, and they give the city a platform with which to test a few key ideas that will become more important in the coming years. [Read more…]

Those in self-driving cars must be sober and ready to take over (The OC Register)

The Department of Motor Vehicles has given approval to 54 companies that can test autonomous vehicles on the roads in California, but each must have a driver ready to jump into action. “All of the rules that apply to you and I apply,” said Jaime Garza, a DMV spokesman. “(The driver) has to be able to take over.” [Read more…]

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