Q What are your five top wishes for the Bay Area trafficwise? Please tell us.
A Five? Just five? OK, here we go.
- No. 1: The fine for using a handheld cellphone should be tripled to around $500.
- No. 2: Caltrans figures out a way to ease the merging chaos at the Interstate 880-Highway 101 interchange.
- No. 3: Recycling trucks stop dumping trash on our roads.
- No. 4: Pedestrians wear light clothing and look before they cross a street, and drivers keep an eye out for them.
- No 5: We become better drivers — road boulders get out of the fast lane, people use their blinkers, tailgaters back off and when another driver does something stupid, we remain calm, don’t overreact and remember that we’ve all done something dumb behind the wheel.
Q You recently printed a laundry list of things that are being done or need to be done to get traffic moving without adding lanes. There was no mention of getting people to just be better drivers. All these things are going to make little difference if we refuse to make a real effort to get drivers to drop their phones, for example.
A Would a $500 fine do the trick?
Q My wife and I were driving in our electric RAV4 (which I love) on Highway 101 in the section in Palo Alto where the road is being repaired. We were going 55 and were the slowest car on the road. Makes me wonder if people think speed limits are optional, but I digress.
Anyway, passing us was a small, red convertible sports car, and the guy had his right arm around the passenger seat and the left arm straight out in the wind as though signaling a left turn. This behavior went on for the entire time I could see him.
This begs the question: Is there a law that says you have to have at least one hand on the wheel?
A You must have your vehicle under control at all times, and it’s kind of hard to do that without at least one hand on the wheel.
Q Often I see signs at a California Highway Patrol truck inspection station saying all trucks must stop, yet I see some commercial trucks, including tractor-trailers, continue without even entering. Are some commercial vehicles exempt from having to stop at these inspection stations?
A Yes. Most likely these trucks are participating in the state’s PrePass program, where trucking companies are allowed to bypass the scales unless otherwise directed by the facility. Drivers carry a transponder, and if all requirements for weight, size, safety, etc., are met, they receive a green signal that allows them to bypass the weigh station.
Q I have a Prius plug-in with green carpool stickers. Can I drive in the carpool lane on expressways such as San Tomas? I had yellow stickers on my old Prius, and I’m pretty sure it was not allowed.
A It is allowed on all expressways in Santa Clara County.