Saturday, June 23, 2012

Driving Stuff

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat's Road Warrior column yesterday focused on driving laws some seem to have forgotten. He seemed to cover most of the bad acts or omissions I see people do while driving. My comments to the column involved minor annoyances rather than safety related stuff.

For instance, one thing I've noticed in Eureka is that a number of people don't realize you can turn left on a red light, provided there is no sign saying otherwise. I'm referring to turning left from the left hand lane of a one way street into the left hand lane of another one way street. I see this fairly often at the intersection of Harris and H Streets in Eureka.

Heading south in the left hand lane of H Street, you often come to a red light at Harris Street, next to the old General Hospital. You don't have to wait for the light to turn green to turn left on to Harris Street there. If the left lane of Harris (a one way street at that point) is clear, you can stop, then turn. I've seen a number of drivers sit there and wait for the light to turn green. That's not necessary.

Another commenter to the Road Warrior column said I was wrong. I say I am right, although I couldn't find it mentioned in the DMV manual. One other commenter said I was right. Think of it like this: You can turn right on a red light after stopping and checking to make sure it's clear, can't you? It's no different turning left when you don't have to cross traffic to worry about.
The first thing I brought up in that column I hesitate to bring up again as I couldn't explain it clearly. I still don't think I can. Suffice it to say, you don't have to wait for me to proceed thru a four way stop intersection when the car opposite of you is crossing the intersection.

Say I come to the north facing stop sign at Buhne and E Streets in Eureka. You come to the east facing stop sign a half a second later than I do but we're stopped about the same time. The other car facing west on Buhne is already there and starts to move through the intersection. You might as well go ahead and cross the intersection since the car opposite you is already crossing. I can't cross with him there, anyway.

I've had a number of people sit and wait for me to go first because I stopped a split second before they do. They're actually being polite, but seems to me the idea is to have drivers opposite each other cross at the same time. We don't want drivers crossing four way stops in the same exact order that they came to the stop. That causes twice the congestion if they all stopped at four different times. We want east/ west and north/south traffic crossing at the same time when possible.

Make sense? I didn't think so. I give up.
One other thing I've seen fairly often that I didn't see mentioned in the Road Warrior column is people not yielding the right of way at intersections. More specifically, something I've seen in Henderson Center on E Street fairly often.

You come to the red light. As soon as the light turns green, the driver across the intersection turns left, crossing right in front of you. That driver is supposed to wait. The car going straight has the right- of- way. Why they don't is beyond me. A pretty brazen, if not downright rude, violation.

That doesn't happen at Harris and E since they installed the left turn light. I did notice it the other day at E and Henderson. What's the problem with just waiting for half a minute for the through traffic to pass?


At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Rio said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Brett said...

Hi Fred,

You are correct! Turning left on red from a one-way street to a one-way street is indeed permitted according to the California Vehicle Code (CVC), Section 21453(b).

Yes, there are ways that drivers can more efficiently clear all-way stop intersections by co-operating with others, but if in doubt, it's best to err on the side of caution, because if there is a collision, CVC Section 21800(c) will apply.

People who jump the green and turn left in front of through traffic bother me, too, as not only because they being rude and breaking the law (CVC, section 21451(a)), but they are putting the safety of others at unnecessary risk. By focusing solely on jumping the green, they may not notice a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing their intended path.

If you want a hot-topic for driver behavior and mis-bahavior at a 4-way stop intersection in Eureka, how about the off-set intersection of W St, Hodgson, and Chester!


At 7:15 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Have you seen any fun stuff at that intersection? I'm not sure I have. It's a bit confusing to me, is all.

For instance, if I'm heading west on Chester to Hodgson, do I need to use my turn signals to continue through to Hodgson? You kinda have to turn right to get to Hodgson. I never do.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger beachcomber said...

A lot of the above is easily remembered if you just consider that you can't cross opposing traffic on a red. With a one-way to one-way left turn, there is no opposing traffic. Conversely, you can NOT turn left from a two-way to a one-way (WB 14th to SB H St) on a red because you're crossing opposing traffic lanes.

My frustration with "what people don't know"? When turning left across opposing traffic at a controlled intersection, you CAN move out INTO the intersection while awaiting cross traffic, allowing (through traffic) cars behind you to go around to continue, moving more cars through on the signal. It drives me crazy being stuck behind someone who sits behind the line waiting for cross traffic to pass so they can turn left then, when the light turns red, they SIT THERE! NO NO NO, pull forward into the middle of the intersection with your signal on. Happy drivers behind you carry on with their day.

Thank you, Fred. I feel better now.


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