Q Vasco Road between Livermore and Brentwood requires the use of headlights, with numerous signs alerting you to that requirement. The CHP apparently writes many tickets to those who do not have their headlights on. Are daytime running lights sufficient to comply with the requirement of headlights on? Nowhere does it state that your taillights be on too, does it?
A This caught me by surprise. For years, police have told me that daytime running lights are OK on highways like Vasco Road, Highway 17, Highway 25 and Highway 1. But now the CHP says "Headlights on" means headlights and not daytime running lights. The reason: When daytime running lights are on, your taillights are not. But in areas with low fog and rain, headlights and taillights are both needed.
Q A couple blocks from our home at Treat Boulevard and Jones Road near the Pleasant Hill BART station, we regularly see small bright blue-colored lights attached to traffic signal poles. What are they for? They're not particularly noticeable during the day, but very obvious after dark. Can you solve this mystery for us?
A Of course. These blue lights let emergency vehicles like fire trucks know as they approach a signal that their request for a green light has been received.
Some blue lights are photoelectric cells, which turn off streetlights after detecting the morning daylight. They then turn on again at twilight. Some states use blue lights to alert police that someone has run a red light.
Q I had to write after reading the complaint about drivers not stopping at the crosswalk near Highway 9 and Big Basin Way in Saratoga. The problem is poor planning on the part of the city. They have allowed a Starbucks to open up at the intersection with a clearly inadequate parking lot. As I frequently go through this intersection, I can tell you it is a mess.
Cars turning left onto Big Basin or coming straight through the light from Saratoga Avenue are immediately halted by the backup from cars trying to get into the already packed Starbucks lot and people crossing the street to get to Starbucks (many of whom do not use the crosswalk).
There is a large parking lot on the left, less than a block away. How about eliminating left turns into Starbucks and putting the flashing crosswalk in front of Wells Fargo, which is a little further away from the intersection?
A How about you become a traffic engineer? The city will install a flashing crosswalk at that location in a couple years. In the meantime, it will also consider your request to ban left turns into Starbucks.
Q So Saratoga drivers are ignoring pedestrians? Maybe Saratoga should copy Willow Glen's Lincoln Avenue experiment. They have little buckets with orange handheld flags at a number of crossings, and pedestrians can carry them across the street, greatly increasing their visibility to drivers. It's a neat, inexpensive solution to the problem.
A I agree.