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Road Warrior

Trying to make sense out of getting around

Unlicensed drivers more deadly than others

Unlicensed drivers and those whose licenses have been suspended or revoked are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash than licensed drivers, a DMV study found. The study used crash data over a 23-year period and reviewed two-vehicle fatal crashes in which only one driver was at fault. It found: –Compared to licensed drivers, those with suspended/revoked licenses or unlicensed were 2.6 and 2.73 times more likely to cause a fatal crash. –The largest percentage of suspended/revoked… Read More »

Mailbag: What’s a STAR smog test? Bicyclists must follow rules of the road

We’ve had several readers write in asking what the new STAR smog test program is. Here’s an answer: The state Bureau of Automotive Repair on Jan. 1 changed its smog test program by eliminating Gold Shield smog-check stations, which generally handled potentially high polluting vehicles, and creating STAR test stations, which must meet a higher performance standard for technicians and the stations themselves as set by the bureau. Some of the STAR stations are test only while others can do… Read More »

Now you again may get a vintage license plate

There’s something nostalgic about California’s license plates from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Now, you may be able to have them again or for the first time. The DMV this year started taking $50 pre-orders for what it’s calling legacy license plates. That’s the yellow one with black lettering issued from 1956 to 1962, the black with yellow lettering handed out from 1963 to 1969 and the blue with yellow lettering distributed from 1969 to 1986. The DMV won’t start… Read More »

Governor OKs bill allowing driverless cars

Here’s an interesting story from the Associated Press about driverless cars: MOUNTAIN VIEW (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday that will pave the way for driverless cars in California. The bill by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla will establish safety and performance regulations to test and operate autonomous vehicles on state roads and highways. The governor signed it at the Mountain View headquarters of Google Inc., which has been developing autonomous car technology and lobbying for the regulations. Self-driving… Read More »

Mailbag: Alerting DMV to problem elderly drivers; carpool lanes; Barnes Road

Here’s a question from a reader: Is there a place to anonymously alert someone about an elderly driver who should no longer be driving? The answer comes from DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez, who pointed us to the DMV website where there’s a form you can fill out and send in anonymously. CLICK HERE to get the form. She said once the DMV receives the form, a worker will call the elderly driver and, depending on information derived during the conversation,… Read More »

What drivers have forgotten in the DMV handbook

We all carefully studied for our DMV driving test and intently tried to follow all of the rules and laws in the DMV handbook. So why is it that so many of us have forgotten so many of the basic rules? Here are my top three: –Turn signals. “Always signal when turning left or right, changing lanes … it lets other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians know your intentions,” the handbook says. I see so many drivers not use their… Read More »

Mailbag: Do bicyclists have to stay in bikes lanes? Can you use disabled placards/license plates out of state?

Here’s a question from a reader: Over a week ago I saw a group of about 20 cyclist heading north on Old Redwood in Windsor. This was a two-lane stretch near Hembree Lane with a clearly marked bicycle lane. About half of the cyclist rode in the designated bike lane, but the other half rode in the right hand lane, forcing traffic to use the left lane to pass. Is it legal for cyclists to ride in the right lane… Read More »

Mailbag: Legal to drive barefoot?

Here’s a question from a reader: Is it legal to drive barefoot? No one seems to know. Jonathan The answer comes from DMV spokeswoman Jan Mendoza: “It is not illegal.” I think the myth that it was illegal was something high school driving instructors and parents told over the years to keep new drivers in line. I remember my instructor telling me it was illegal. But as you can see here, the DMV says it’s legal. So, Californians, feel free… Read More »

Mailbag: Can you use businesses other than DMV?

A couple of Road Warrior readers have asked about websites offering to handle your DMV registration renewals for a fee. Are they legit? Should I use them? For example, when you google “California DMV,” the first website listed is cartagz.com, probably because it’s paid a fee to Google for the prominence. Cartagz.com charges $29 plus a convenience fee of $4.50, in addition to the DMV fee to process a registration renewal. Other charges also may apply. DMV spokesman Jaime Garza… Read More »