Roadshow: Why pickup drivers leave the tailgate down

Q I have the following pet peeve: To all those people driving pickups large and small with your tailgate down, you are not getting better gas mileage. Plus, a tailgate hanging down is a hazard to those who might bump into them or be knocked into them by some SUV-driving bozo.

Steve Schmiesing

Folsom

A It’s legal, but it saves only a little gas. Depending on the type of truck, you are probably saving half a mile per gallon with the gate down. However, if you used a solid cover over the bed, you would get better mileage. You will save more gas by making sure your tires are properly inflated and your air filter is clean.

There’s a bigger issue to consider — safety. Truck manufacturers say keeping the tailgate locked and in place creates a rigid box section that can absorb being hit from behind. When the tailgate is down, the structural integrity of the truck is compromised.

Q I saw the story about gas prices going to $4 a gallon due to supply constraints with the change from winter to summer blend of gas, and to the summer blend being more expensive to produce. Why not make the summer blend year-round if it is cleaner-burning?

Mehrdaud Nikahd

San Jose

A Here’s why: Winter gas combats carbon monoxide, a problem when temperatures fall. Summer-grade fuel has a lower vapor pressure, limiting emissions that increase with warmer weather and cause unhealthy ground-level ozone, according to energy officials.

Also, gas evaporating from tanks is a major creator of smog, and the summer formula evaporates less readily than gas used in cold months, reducing ozone-producing nitrogen oxides and other volatile organic compounds.

U.S. refiners typically begin to switch over to summer gas in March.

Q Are they building a dairy in Mountain View at Highway 101, ‘cuz there is a ton of milking of time getting that center barrier finished. I drive by there early in the morning and throughout the day and rarely see anything happening.

Paul Cruz

San Jose

A You aren’t the only soul asking.

Q You’ve done little to nothing to represent the thousands who have to put up with the danger zone that is Highway 101 from Palo Alto to Mountain View. Instead of putting some pressure on Caltrans to complete this job (no one has been working on the unfinished road with its shifting lanes and multiple confusing striping in months) it appears that you just don’t want to rock the boat with the Caltrans folks, acting more like a spokesman for them than for us who have to drive through this corridor waiting for yet another accident to happen.

J Amend

Menlo Park

A And …

Q Didn’t Caltrans say the 101 widening was to be done two years ago?

Bill Phillips

A No, that’s not what the state said. Work began in the spring of 2012 and was to be finished in late 2013. But that has been pushed back, and repaving will not be done until the weather warms up.

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow, follow him at Twitter.com/mrroadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.