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A Press Democrat Blog

Road Warrior

Trying to make sense out of getting around

Freeform merge lanes: Illegal or just plain stupid?

When cross traffic is heavy, frustrated motorists sometimes take matters into their own hands, nosing their way into the flow any way they can. But is it legal? That’s what Road Warrior reader Ralph wanted to know. Question: I see people turning right from Merced Avenue onto Highway 12, eastbound, and using the shoulder as if it was a merging lane on the freeway. Is this legal? It seems dangerous and just plain stupid. Same with using the suicide lanes as… Read More »

Big changes at the Road Warrior

We’re changing drivers at the Road Warrior blog. After nearly three years of writing the column — and 29 years at The Press Democrat — I’m retiring on Monday and Linda Castrone, editor of The Press Democrat’s Towns section, will take over Tuesday. She’ll do an excellent job. The column has grown tremendously since it debuted April 22, 2010, with more than 1,000 columns, a total of 3 million page views and more than 7,400 published comments from readers. I… Read More »

Crashes up, fatalities, tickets down in Sonoma County

Traffic crashes rose last year, but fatalities dropped as did tickets and DUI arrests by the Sonoma County CHP, according to the latest statistics. A total of 2,485 crashes were investigated by the local CHP, which covers Sonoma County except for part of the Sonoma Valley. That’s up from 2,405 in 2010 and 2,324 in 2009. Sixteen people died in last year’s crashes — “that’s the lowest number in a long time,” said CHP Officer Jon Sloat, the spokesman for… Read More »

Mailbag: CHP using radar on the onramp?

Here’s a question from a reader: We have noticed several times that the CHP is using radar on the onramp from Hwy 12 westbound onto 101. We are confused. I was instructed that when getting on a freeway you are to quickly get up to speed to match the traffic you will be merging with. Why would the CHP be using radar on the onramp. Are they giving tickets for going to fast? It is a very sharp turn and… Read More »

Tougher speed enforcement in construction zones

The local CHP will be stepping up its enforcement of the speed limit in the Highway 101 construction zones as part of a statewide effort to protect Caltrans and road construction crews. The action this week comes after four Caltrans workers were killed in traffic-related accidents in the past year, including three last spring in Southern California. Local CHP spokesman Officer Jon Sloat said two officers will be stationed in the construction zones during night work instead of the usual… Read More »

Pumpkin Patch Crawl is back

The Pumpkin Patch Crawl is getting an early start on Highway 101. Every year for the last 18 years or so, Jim Groverman of Petaluma has created a pumpkin patch in north Petaluma between Stony Point Road and 101. Families by the hundreds, if not thousands, flock to his patch to find the right pumpkin for Halloween and to try to get through his corn maze. The patch doesn’t open until Friday, Sept. 30, but the patch already is causing… Read More »

Publicizing DUI checkpoints or not

A Santa Rosa assemblyman is generating a lot of controversy over his bill that would set uniform rules for police statewide in operating DUI checkpoints and that would require police to publicize the specific location of a checkpoint at least two hours in advance. A story in Monday’s Press Democrat had local police officials opposing Democratic Assemblyman Michael Allen’s provision to give at least two hours notice of a checkpoint, Chris Smith raised doubts about the plan in his Tuesday… Read More »

Watch out for Vineman congestion

If you’re out and about Sunday, watch out for the 2,000-plus competitors running and bicycling in the 21st Avia Vineman Ironman 70.3 triathlon, which used to be called the Half Vineman. Some traffic delays are likely. The bike course starts in Guerneville, goes to Healdsburg via Westside Road and Geyserville via Dry Creek Road before heading south through Alexander Valley Road over Chalk Hill Road to the Wikiup area before ending in Windsor. CLICK HERE for bike map. There the… Read More »

Mailbag: When do you need to tarp your load

If you have questions, we’ll try to get the answers for you. Here’s one from a reader: Q: What’s the law on tarping loads? If I take stuff to the dump, I know I’m suppose to tarp. But what if I’m not going to the dump? Does it matter what the “stuff” is? Dirt? Gravel? Boxes? Furniture? And is there a tarping law for dump trucks? I rarely see one covered. The answer from CHP Officer Jon Sloat: If you… Read More »