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Failing to Use Your Blinker in California

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It’s such an easy thing to do. You hit the little switch on the side of your steering wheel, which activates your blinker light so that all the other drivers on the road understand that you’re about to make a turn. Even though using your blinker is one of the easiest things most of us do during the course of our day, there are still drivers who don’t fail to signal that they’re about to make a turn.

Common reasons drivers give for not using their blinker include:

✨ They were in a designated turn lane so they shouldn’t have to use a blinker
✨ Other drivers should be driving defensively and therefore be prepared for them to do anything
✨ They forgot to activate their blinker

Whatever excuse you use for not using your blinker when you decided to make a turn, you should know that by neglecting your blinker, you’re putting yourself in a position to get a traffic ticket, or even worse, getting into a serious accident.

In 2012, the Autoblog reported that the Society of Automotive Engineers conducted a study that explored just how dangerous failing to use a blinker really was. The results surprised everyone. According to the collected data, failing to use a blinker resulted in even more accidents than distracted driving.

The Society of Automotive Engineers reported that they observed that approximately 25 percent of drivers failed to signal that they were either turning, changing lanes, or while passing. Based on this data, the ground determined that there are 750 billion instances of drivers failing to use their turn signal each year which means that approximately 1-2 million accidents each year could have been avoided had the driver taken the split second needed to signal their intentions.

During the period of time that the study of blinkers was underway, they reported that there had been 950,000 vehicle crashes that were the result of distracted driving situations.

If a police officer catches you in a moment when you’ve failed to use your blinker, the consequences could be severe. While there’s a chance they’ll let you off with a warning, there’s an equally good chance they’ll issue you a ticket that comes with a $238 fine and will also result in a point being added to your driving record. That point is particularly troubling since 4 points in a 12-month span or 8 points in a 36-month span can result in the state suspending your driver’s license.

When all is said and done, using your blinker each and every time you make a turn or change lanes is the best way to prove that you’re a good and responsible driver.

Hitchhiking in California

Hitchhiking in California

Hitchhiking in California

Signs warning drivers about the dangers of picking up hitchhikers litter the sides of California’s highways. Upon seeing these signs, most of us assume that we’re close to one of the state’s prisons and that cops are worried that a hitchhiker could be an escaped convict. Few of us know that the reason there are so many signs warning about hitchhikers scattered along California’s immense span network of highways is because hitchhiking is actually illegal.

The issue of hitchhiking is addressed in CA Veh Code § 21957 (2018)21957. The law states that “No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of any vehicle.”

Clearly, the law doesn’t want anyone hitchhiking, but what if you’re vehicle has broken down and you need a ride into town? Are you supposed to walk the whole way? And what if you pick up a hitchhiker?

It’s obvious that the law was created to discourage hitchhiking, but it’s the lanquage you want to pay particular attention to. It states that you can’t stand in the middle of the road and try to flag oncoming traffic down and asking for a ride. If one of California’s highway patrol officers catches you doing so, they’ll likely stop and ask you to move off the road. They might even issue a ticket.

However, according to the strict language of the law, you are free to stand on the shoulder of the road and attempt to flag down an approaching vehicle. The trick is, you have to do it in such a way that you’re not disrupting traffic.

If you are a driver who spots someone who wants a lift, you’re allowed to stop and offer them one, but not if you’re on one of the state’s massive freeways. Stopping on the shoulder of one of the those could disrupt the flow of traffic and cause a serious accident. You’ll have to somehow signal to the hitchhiker that you’ll meet them at the next exit.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the person offering a hitchhiker a ride or if you’re the person accepting the ride, it’s important to remember that inviting a stranger into your car is a risk. Make sure you use sound judgement and are very careful.

Don’t Cheat in the Carpool Lane

Don’t Cheat in the Carpool Lane

Don’t Cheat in the Carpool Lane

P
retty much every California driver out there can agree that the state has horrible traffic problems. No matter which end of the state you are on, whenever a driver gets close to a large urban area, traffic will slow to a crawl. In Los Angeles, it can easily take two hours to drive a distance that would, without traffic, take 30 minutes to traverse.

One of the most commonly implemented ways to avoid traffic is carpool, or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), lanes. These lanes are usually found all the way to the left and are only allowed to be used by vehicles that have more than one person in them. This means that any vehicle in these lanes should have a driver and at least one passenger.

The idea behind these lanes is to convince people to rideshare more to take advantage of these lanes. Doing this would reduce the number of cars on the road and help reduce traffic. However, a lot of people don’t want to give up the freedoms that come from driving themselves, or they simply have no one to carpool with. In these instances, some people decide to try to trick the system and drive in the carpool lane without a passenger present. What these people don’t realize is that doing so is illegal, and can earn them a nice ticket.

Carpool Cheaters

Some drivers, in an attempt to get around the traffic, will try to make it look like they have a passenger riding with them. They can do this in several ways, including:

  • Dressing up mannequins.
  • Putting baby dolls in car seats.
  • Dressing up the passenger seat to look like a person.

There are probably plenty of other schemes out there, and most California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers have seen them all. It is important to note that

The thing with these so-called sneaky tricks is that they don’t work as well as drivers think they do. Officers are well aware of the tricks and can spot them pretty easily. The mannequins are often too stiff and unresponsive to the road to be considered real for more than a second.

If a CHP officer notices a person trying to pull one of these tricks in the carpool lane, they will pull the driver over and will give them a ticket.

The only good thing about these tricks is that often times when a driver uses them, they at least strap the doll or mannequin in properly.

Penalties of Misusing a Carpool Lane

California Vehicle Code (VC) 21655.5 makes it illegal for a person to misuse a carpool lane. This means it is illegal for a person to drive in any carpool lane without having another, living, person in the vehicle.

Breaking this law results in infraction level charges that come with a fine of $490 and no potential jail time. A person will not receive any points on their driver’s record for this kind of violation.

Also, be aware that entering or exiting a carpool lane over a double yellow line is illegal and can result in a separate ticket. This ticket would cost anywhere from $100 to $150 and does add a point to the driver’s record. If a driver acquires too many points on their record within too short a period, they can have their license suspended, or even revoked altogether.

Don’t Cheat Traffic

No one likes getting stuck in traffic, but it is a part of life in highly urbanized areas. Trying to get passed the traffic by using a doll or mannequin to enter into a carpool lane is an easy way to get a ticket. Not only do CHP officers see through the ruse, other drivers who notice it are more than likely to report it. After all, why would they allow someone else to cheat through the carpool lane while they are stuck in traffic?

Luckily for all the law-abiding drivers out there, anyone caught in the carpool lane without a living passenger in their vehicle will earn themselves a nice ticket. What do you think of carpool cheaters? Do they deserve the ticket for sneaking into the carpool lane, or are they just being smart?

What Is a California Stop?

What Is a California Stop?

What Is a California Stop?

There are lots of different rules that a driver has to follow while on the road. Failing to follow any of them can easily earn a person a ticket. Still, there are a ton of different laws, making it easy to forget one here and there. This is made even easier if most drivers forget, or chose to forget, certain laws.

One commonly forgotten or ignored law here in California revolves around something that every driver experiences daily: the stop sign. Stop signs are everywhere and it is rare for a driver to go anywhere without encountering at least one. One might think this would make it impossible for people to forget about the rule regarding stop signs, but that is not the case. So many people here in California have either forgotten, or choose to conveniently ignore, the rule regarding the red octagonal sign.

The Sign Says Stop

If a person has ever talked to another individual about driving before, they’ve likely heard of the term: California Stop. The practice wasn’t invented in California, and the name does seem to change from region to region, but this is one of the most common names for the practice of rolling stops here in California.

A rolling stop occurs when a driver comes up to a stop sign, and instead of doing as instructed, slows down to a crawl. They roll for a bit, then proceed. Their vehicle never actually stopped, which is illegal. Despite that fact, thousands upon thousands of drivers are guilty of committing California stops daily.

This creates an unnecessary risk for other drivers and pedestrians as well. When people see a car approaching a stop sign, they expect it to stop. They plan on the vehicle stopping and when it doesn’t, that’s when accidents can occur.

The sign is pretty clear on what drivers are supposed to do. It does not say, slow down and proceed. It says stop. This means a driver always needs to come to a complete stop at these signs. A driver should stop their vehicle, so that their wheels aren’t moving at all, count to 3, then proceed if the intersection is clear and it is their turn.

If a driver doesn’t do this, they run the risk of causing an accident, and of getting a ticket.

California Vehicle Code 22450

Here in California, drivers are required to stop under Vehicle Code (VC) 22450. This law states simply that all drivers need to stop for stop signs. The vehicle has to come to a complete stop behind the first of the following:

  • The limit line,
  • The outer edge of the crosswalk,
  • Or before entering the street.

For those unaware, the limit line is the white line that cuts across the road near a stop sign to tell people where to stop.

Some drivers don’t see a major problem with rolling stops, and so they expect officers to let them off with a warning. However, that is rarely the case. As mentioned before, the sign tells a driver exactly what they are supposed to do. When a person fails to stop, even if they slowed down, the law sees the act as running a stop sign. This means the person will receive a traffic ticket when caught. This ticket comes with:

  • Roughly a $230 fine.
  • 1 point on the driver’s record.

If a driver accumulates too many points on their driver’s record within too short a period, they can be labeled a negligent driver. This means the state can either suspends the driver’s license or revoke it entirely.

Even if a person doesn’t acquire too many points on their record to warrant a suspension, each time they gain a point they can expect to receive higher car insurance rates.

Don’t Worry About Being Late

Rolling stops happen when people are in a rush and are more concerned with getting wherever they are going than with safety. The driver is being selfish. Being late doesn’t matter if the driver ends up killing themselves on the way to their destination. Everyone should remember the rules of the road and follow them, even if they are running late or are in a hurry. This way, everyone gets where they are going safely.

What are your thoughts on rolling stops? Are they nothing to be concerned about, or are they a bigger deal than people realize? Should drivers get tickets for committing a rolling stop?

Do You Follow Click It or Ticket?

Do You Follow Click It or Ticket?

Do You Follow Click It or Ticket?

Every driver, and even most passengers have seen signs on the road that read: click it or ticket. The campaign has been around since its founding in 1993 when it originated in North Carolina. From there, the campaign spread across the country with some states embracing it more than others. The ones that have taken up the slogan and supported it with ads have seen substantial increases in seatbelt usage.

However, over the past few decades, the slogan has become a bit stale. The warning is no longer hitting home like it used to. While some states are happy to keep repeating the same slogan over and over again, the state of Georgia decided to revamp the slogan, and they asked the general public for help.

Georgia Comes Up with New Slogans

Back in fall of 2019, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) opened up a contest for people to come up with fun driving slogans. There were five different categories and the rules were simple. The messages have to be under 63 characters and could not contain any profanities. As one can imagine, the contest got a lot of entries.

Last Thursday GDOT announced the winners of the contest. Each of the five categories got a first, second, and third place winner, with multiple categories receiving ties. Many of the winning slogans were very funny. The first place slogans for each category were:

  • General Safety –If you miss your exit it’s okay, we made more up ahead.
  • Distracted Driving – You look great but the selfie can wait. / Looking at the road is a great way to stay on it.
  • Impaired Driving – Driving half lit isn’t very bright.
  • Seat Belt – This is a sign you should buckle up. / If you don’t wear a seat belt, please be an organ donor.
  • Work Zone Safety – Look left, look right, keep workers in sight.

GDOT is planning to start posting these first place slogans, and the other finalists, on signs across the state as soon as possible.

California Seatbelt Laws

Here in California, the state still posts signs warning drivers to “click it or ticket.” Basically, if a person doesn’t wear a seat belt, they can get a ticket from law enforcement. This is enforced by Vehicle Code (VC) 27315, which states: any person 16 years or older must wear a seat belt when driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle.

This law also makes it so that vehicle owners have to keep their seat belts in good, working order.

The penalties for driving or riding without a seat belt is a small ticket.

  • $20 base fine for a first offense.
  • $50 base fine for any subsequent offense.

In some instances, a court can order a person to go to a traffic school instead of paying a fine if it is the person’s first seat belt offense.

Another important note is that the amounts listed are just the base amounts. Court fees and fines will likely be added on to those numbers, making them more expensive.

No points are issued to a person’s driver’s license if they are accused of this crime.

A Creative Way to Ensure Safety

There is no denying that the couple decade’s old slogan of click it or ticket has grown stale. It has become so common place that some people have begun to ignore it even though wearing a seat belt can easily save a person’s life. Wearing a seat belt is very important, which is likely why the state of Georgia decided to create some new slogans to encourage people to do so.

The state even went the extra step to ensure that the slogans were interesting by having the general public create them. The idea definitely worked and the Georgia Department of Transportation was gifted with some real gems. The winners of the contest probably can’t wait to see their slogan on a road sign.

What do you think of Georgia’s slogan competition and the selected winners? Do you think the state of California should do the same thing? What about California’s seat belt law? Is it a good idea, and do the penalties for not wearing a seat belt seem fair, or do they need to be reevaluated? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

Do You Know What to Do When a Traffic Light Stops Working?

Do You Know What to Do When a Traffic Light Stops Working?

Do You Know What to Do When a Traffic Light Stops Working?

With all of the technology around us that helps keep the world running, it can be hard to imagine what things used to be like before that tech existed. How could people have lived without all of this amazing stuff? Well, every once in a while we get to find out. As amazing as all of this tech is, it isn’t indestructible, and can sometimes come crashing down.

Take for instance one of the most important bits of technology for drivers, especially those traveling through cities: Stoplights. These simple bits of tech may not seem like a big deal, but when they go down, they can cause quite a commotion.

Who Would Have Thought Traffic Lights Would Have Such an Impact

As drivers, everyone expects that everything will go their way. Cars will drive on the right side of the road, drivers will stay in their lanes, and use turn signals when needed. When something like this doesn’t work properly, such as a driver not signaling their turn or lane change, it can be frustrating.

What can be more frustrating, and even confusing for some, is when a traffic light goes down. Traffic lights can go down for a few different reasons, such as:

  • Power outage
  • Computer failure
  • Maintenance

When this occurs, all of the lights in the intersection will either blink the red light on and off, or they will go black entirely. This can cause a lot of confusion for drivers who were expecting the light to be working and telling them how to proceed through the intersection.

So, what are drivers supposed to do when they come across and intersection with stoplights that are not working?

How to Drive Through Downed Stoplights

The answer to that questions is actually very simple and straight forward. When stoplights go down, drivers are supposed to treat the intersection the same way they would one controlled by stop signs.

This means that drivers need to come to a full stop before entering the intersection. They should allow other drivers who reached the limit line before them to go first. So long as everyone is polite and takes their turn, things will move smoothly.

Some drivers assume that if the road they are on is a main road, and the other one a minor one, they on the main road do not have to stop. This is wrong. All cars in all directions have to stop before entering the intersection. Ironically, by stopping this keeps traffic moving in all directions.

Everyone has seen a working stoplight intersection before, and can reproduce it on a smaller, turn-based scale. For example, the traffic could proceed as follows, one car at a time per lane:

1. Cars on the up and down road seeking to make a left can go first.
2. Cars going straight on the up and down road go next.
3. Cars making left turns on the right and left road go next.
4. Cars going straight on the right and left roads go next.
5. Repeat the process.

So long as everyone works together, things will run smoothly.

Just Take Turns

Dealing with a downed traffic light isn’t exactly fun. When people are driving, they expect everything to be working properly so that they can get to their destination on time. With all of the technology at our disposal, this should be easy, but sometimes, tech fails.

Something as small as a traffic light going down can greatly slow down a person’s commute. However, trying to rush through a down intersection only create more problems for everyone else. It is in everybody’s interest to work together and take turns.

Do you have another good example of when a small bit of tech goes down that had a bigger impact than you might have guessed? Share it in the comments down below.

Is Parking in Front of a Hydrant a Good Idea?

Is Parking in Front of a Hydrant a Good Idea?

Is Parking in Front of a Hydrant a Good Idea?

When a person is driving in a city or heavily populated area, they know that finding a parking spot is probably going to be difficult. After all, there are a lot of people in cities, all of whom are trying to find a spot close to their destination to minimize any walk time. This process can be made even more difficult thanks to all sorts of signs, meters, and rules regarding parking.

Often times, cites have signage up that instructs drivers on when they can park in certain areas. These signs can often be a bit confusing to some drivers, but can easily be understood after some quick consideration. Other rules are much more straightforward, such as never park on a red curb. At least, that is what most people would think. Some drivers don’t pay attention to this simple rule, and end up paying the price.

California’s Color Coordinated Curbs

Parking is such a simple act. All a driver is doing is bringing their car to a stop in a safe, designated area. However, here in California, there are a lot of rules and restrictions on where a person can park their car. A driver cannot just leave their vehicle wherever they feel like, whenever they want.

A driver can come across several different colored curbs while driving, and each one tells a driver a different rule. Some examples includes:

  • Blue: Parking is reserved for vehicles of handicapped people only.
  • Green: Vehicles can only be parked for a limited amount of time.
  • Red: No parking or stopping in front of this curb.
  • White: Cars can only stop long enough to pick up or drop off someone.
  • Yellow: Cars can only stop long enough to pick up or drop off cargo and the driver needs to stay with the vehicle.

These color codes are very basic and simple to understand, and still some drivers struggle with them. If they do not follow these rules, then they can find themselves getting a ticket.

Parking in Front of a Fire Hydrant

One of the biggest no-no’s when it comes to parking, is parking in front of a fire hydrant. With every fire hydrant, fifteen feet in either direction, the curb is usually painted red. This is done to allow fire fighters to have access to the hydrant in case of an emergency. They need all of that space to do their job properly. Intruding on that space can be the difference between someone losing their home.

Parking in front of a hydrant may seem harmless, since how often do fires really break out? However, structure fires break out pretty frequently, and fire fighters will do whatever they need to in order to put the blaze out. Often times this means breaking the vehicles windows so the fire hose can run through it. There are plenty of images of this happening online when some dumb driver decided to park in front of a hydrant.

Not only does this mean the person has to pay for repairs on their vehicle, they can count on their vehicle being impounded and receiving a ticket from local law enforcement. This means that a person who parks in front of a fire hydrant will have a lot of expenses to deal with, which will add up quickly.

Don’t Park in Front of Hydrants

Having brightly painted curbs is a quick and easy way to alert drivers to where they can and cannot park, provided the driver pays attention. Of course, paint fades over time, and some hydrants may not be marked as no parking areas, however, that does not mean that a person can park in front of the hydrant.

Even if the open spot in front of a hydrant is close, it simply isn’t worth it to park there. A good rule of thumb is to never park in front of a hydrant, and keep a car length of distance between a vehicle and a hydrant. That will ensure that the car is never too close to a hydrant. A driver just needs to keep an eye out, or else they could wind up dealing with some costly consequences.

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The Fast and the Furious is Cool, but Street Racing is Illegal

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The eighth installment of the popular street racing franchise The Fast and the Furious is finally out in theaters. The movies are entertaining to watch, guilty pleasure or not, but what you see on the big screen is not what you should see in real life on the streets. Street racing, technically documented as Speed Contest, is illegal in California.

A speed contest, street racing, or drag racing, is an illegal exhibition when two or more vehicles race against each other on public streets and highways. In many cases, a clock is used to record the times. Such an activity threatens the safety of the public, not to mention the very drivers in those cars. These street races differ from official and legal car races such as those held by NASCAR.

Obviously, the drivers involved in street racing are violating the law, but spectators can also be cited. Consequences of street racing include:

  • Arrest
  • Vehicle is impounded for up to 30 days
  • Up to 3 months in jail
  • Up to a $1,000 fine
  • Car insurance increases or in some cases, canceled

When a street race goes horribly wrong and there has been a fatality, the people who are arrested face heightened consequences, both financially and emotionally. They could be looking at medical bills, a totaled car, and a more serious criminal charge like felony reckless driving.This results in a longer prison sentence, if convicted.

Leave the street racing to the movie makers and special effects masters in the film industry. Remember that a car can be a deadly weapon, especially if the driver is being irresponsible and driving recklessly. Accidents happen enough as it is, there is no need to increase that risk by getting involved in illegal street racing. So, just be responsible and drive safely!

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Texting and Driving? Too Much, New Laws

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Let us be real, these days, texting and driving is no longer texting and driving. It is more like social media-ing and driving,or navigating maps and driving because smart phones have come so far in just a few years. This has caused driving and cell phone laws to be expanded, starting this year.

Starting this year, cell phones must be mounted to the dash,the lower left or upper left corner of the windshield, if the driver wishes to use it while driving. With it mounted, the driver may make one single tap or swipe on the phone.
Other laws regarding cell phone use while driving still exist of course, but the new ones just expanded on them.

The goal is to reduce distracted driving and consequences of such instances like accidents and arrests.