Can you report a dangerous driver, are trucks hauling dirt responsible for cracked windshields, and a plea to stop flicking butts out the window. CHP Officer Jon Sloat provides all the answers.

Question: I was stopped at a flashing pedestrian crossing in Sonoma on June 20, a bicycle was crossing, and the jerk in a mini-van behind me decided that we were stopped for no reason. He pulled around me ON THE RIGHT into a parking lane and flew through the crossing.

I saw him coming up beside me and honked my horn, startling the bicycle enough that he stopped and avoided being probably seriously injured by this jerk, because he wasn’t creeping, he was going probably 40 past me. If I hadn’t honked, that person would’ve been hit. Then the mini-van took off like a bat out of hell. I got his license plate number, and my husband said I should have reported it. Is that something I can even do? — Leah

Answer: Absolutely. We request that you get a license plate number, location, observations and description of the vehicle. With this info, the CHP will send out a warning letter that states that their vehicle was observed driving unsafely and the possible repercussions. Generally, we send these letters out when the violation occurs outside city limits since inside is the primary responsibility of the local police, but exceptions can be made.

Question: Are the trucks that are hauling gravel/dirt in and out of all the different highway 101 construction projects required by law to cover their load so it doesn’t fly out while they are traveling? It seems that every time I pull within 50 feet of one I am getting showered with sand and small rocks. I even got a crack in my windshield from one. Is their a law to prevent this and are they responsible for damage it causes? — Nate

Answer:  There is a law that prohibits any vehicle from spilling a load on a highway. When hauling aggregate, (gravel, dirt, etc.) if the load protrudes over the edge of the bed, meaning you can see a mound of dirt, it is required to be covered. If your vehicle suffers damage as a result of this violation you need to record the license plate of the truck. Depending on the location there may be remedies through the trucking company or Cal Trans.

Question: Here we are with acres burning around Sonoma County, high winds and high temperatures. Yet, I continue to see smokers holding their cigarettes outside their car windows, flicking ash (and more) out into the roadways and dry grass. A warm day isn’t an excuse to dump your trash on the rest of us. Maybe you can ask the CHP and SRPD about this and let readers know about the Paul Buzzo Act. I think $1,000 fines for this obnoxious activity are a great way to raise revenue for the County and reduce this nasty, dangerous practice. — Mike

Answer:  The Paul Buzzo Act was name after a child who was burned to death after a lit cigarette tossed out a window landed in the back seat of the car where he was sitting, catching it on fire. It refers specifically to tossing a lit object from a vehicle. Last I checked the fine was over $500.

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  1. The G Man

    I’ve reported an “idiot driver” with a license and vivid description to the CHP. I’ve given them my name, address, and phone number, but never hear anything back after they asked if I would be interested in following through, of which I say yes.

    You state: “the CHP will send out a warning letter that states that their vehicle was observed driving unsafely and the possible repercussions.” If this is true, then why don’t I ever get a call back from the CHP about the blatant “idiot driver?”

    June 26th, 2013 12:10 pm

  2. Gregory

    As I understand it talking and texting on cell phones in a moving vehicle is against the law. Yet, I see CHP and City Police talking on cells every day. Does the law not pertain to them also or are they exempt? Yet if I do it there is a hefty fine and for them? Who polices the police?

    June 26th, 2013 12:59 pm

  3. J. Longtooth

    Off topic: Officer Sloat, has the CHP ever requested a budget expenditure in which simple-simon rules of the road can be broadcast via radio and TV on regular basis? Commercial messages, that is, that hammer home potentially life saving tips? Or, even better, is the CHP in a position to demand that FCC regulated broadcasters accord them the time slots to do so?

    My pet peeve with dumb drivers are tailgaters. If the CHP hammered home the danger those fools place both themselves and others (most importantly, of course, me), and that message was broadcast on a regular basis throughout the day, a healthy percentage of those idiots might wise up.

    June 26th, 2013 5:15 pm

  4. Jon sloat

    G man, we send out the warning letters but generally do not call the reporting party back unless we see a chance of prosecution. It should be made clear when you give us the information that the letter will be definitely be sent.

    June 26th, 2013 9:10 pm

  5. Jon sloat

    J. Longtooth,
    The Santa Rosa Area CHP has been fortunate enough to team up with local radio station KZST to provide traffic reports. In return we are able to broadcast such traffic safety messages on a regular basis on that station as well as several others. I regularly preach the dangers of following too closely, as it is the cause of many of the collisions we respond to. We can not do it every day throughout the day, but local media is very receptive about helping us get our message out. And let’s not forget the Road Warrior, as we will answer anything that comes our way here!

    June 26th, 2013 9:22 pm

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