From the oldies but goodies file, here’s a question that still has traction. Several times a month we get similar questions from Road Warrior readers. This answer was posted Jan. 14, 2012.

Question: This is a situation that I see all the time in Sonoma County.  I think there’s potential risk either way.  I’m curious what the legal answer is to this: There’s a car in front of you turning left, waiting for oncoming traffic to clear.  The road is two lane with an ample shoulder.  Can you (the car waiting behind) after checking for any other hazards, pull around the stopped car in front of you? — Sally

The answer comes from CHP Officer Jon Sloat, spokesman for the local office:

By the letter of the law, it is a violation to use the shoulder (21755.) The section reads that you may safely pass on the right, but “in no event shall that movement be made by driving off of the paved or main-traveled portion of the roadway.” If you are to the right of the white line, you are off of the main traveled portion and could possibly be cited.

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  1. Tim Bronson

    Can we all just admit that there’s a special place in hell for people who use the offramp/onramp trick to jump ahead of stopped traffic on the highway? If 101 is blocked up at the north end of Novato, there is always a handful of thoughtful drivers who take the offramp and continue straight onto the opposing onramp to skip ahead. Is this legal?

    (Thanks for the column!)

    November 13th, 2013 6:40 am

  2. G

    There’s more that comes into equation here. In a city, at intersections, and when behind a vehicle that is making a left turn with enough room on the right to pass and no white line designated, vehicles always pass on the right.

    I’ve asked ‘local’ Police if it’s legal, and they say “Yes.”

    As for Highway driving, that’s a different story, NO. And when out in the country where no paved shoulder is there, you’re at risk of being safe in your own vehicle, so be very careful.

    November 13th, 2013 8:41 pm

  3. DaveK

    Offramp then onramp is not illegal, but is not considerate. The same with passing on the shoulder. Who or what is so important that they have to be in such a rush?

    What is really off is that the fine for driving in the carpool lane I’ve seen as high as $400… while the extremely dangerous texting while driving state law fine : The base fine for violating this law is $20 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.

    November 14th, 2013 8:44 am

  4. Bill

    While sitting in stop and go traffic NB 101 in Santa Rosa during the commute hour of the 20 vehicles I watched go by in the car pool lane only two had mulpitple occupants !

    So what is the point of the carpool lane ?

    November 14th, 2013 12:16 pm

  5. tom

    The work at bicentennial and mendocino ave seems to have slowed to a crawl. Whenever I have to traverse it lately, there is always lanes closed in both directions and no operating traffic lights. There also seems to be very little in the way of crews visibly working, or even visible at all. Very bad coordination on the part of the contractors and city supervisors in making sure people are shuttled through as efficiently as possible. Why is it so undermanned? I know road, traffic lights, and underground work is going to impact motorists, but the apparent lack of effort to move us along and the fact that the crews seem to not even be there at times is frustrating. Wasn’t this going to only take three months?

    November 15th, 2013 4:08 pm

  6. Road.Warrior

    They’re in the final stages of construction, just raising manhole covers and adding the stripes, so it should be done in the next week or so.

    November 15th, 2013 6:37 pm

  7. Jim McGowan

    I was stopped on my bicycle at the intersection of Guernville and Fulton recently, in the right lane intending to go straight, when a city bus pulled around me and turned right on a red light. His back wheel cut in very close to me, but since I had a foot still clipped in, I couldn’t move, and thought for a second I would be run over.
    Is his turn around me illegal? Shouldn’t bus drivers as government agencies have a duty to follow the rules as they are an example to other less trained drivers?
    I called Citybus but they did not take my complaint.

    November 19th, 2013 11:42 am

  8. Leslie

    This happens everyday at the 12 merge going north onto 101. There are both east and west highway 12 drivers merging into traffic that exiting 101 for downtown. Confusing enough! But then you get Idiots YES Idiots passing on the right. They are nearly impossible to see by those exiting from 101 to downtown especially if a large truck or suv is in the mix. You end up having to watch 3 lanes of traffic and merge all at the same time. horrible safety issue. I exit here everyday and can’t tell you how many times I have nearly been hit by someone who just can’t stay in the designated lanes and passes on the right, and swoops around. If I were a cop looking to fill a quota…boy could I do it here.

    November 19th, 2013 1:03 pm

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