Q I have a question for a friend who was involved in an accident. He drives a motorcycle, and while he was splitting lanes between the fast lane and the next lane, he was sideswiped by a carpool violator. Thank God no one was seriously hurt.
He was traveling at around 40 mph when a sport utility vehicle clipped him. I told him that they are both at fault since he was traveling over the allowed speed limit when splitting lanes, but he is insisting that if the other driver did not violate the carpool law, the accident would never happen. Can you educate us on who is at fault in this incident?
A It's hard to say which driver was at fault. That would be determined by an investigating officer after gathering evidence at the scene and obtaining statements from the drivers and witnesses. Without that information, an opinion as to which party is at fault or most at fault is not possible. And of course, a court might ultimately have to settle the matter.
But-Steve-The-CHP-Man has this to say:
"Your reader does bring up some interesting and frequently misunderstood aspects of collision investigation. A non-moving violation such as a carpool violation or expired vehicle registration issue has no bearing on the at-fault decision. Those violations could result in citations, but would not affect the fault determination. Also the statement of an 'allowed speed limit' for motorcyclists while splitting lanes is not based upon anything in the vehicle code, so I am not sure where that came from.
"This collision is most probably coming down to the following two violations: unsafe speed on the part of the motorcycle, or an unsafe lane change by the SUV."
Q The other day I saw a CHP officer trying to pull a motorist over on Interstate 680 in Fremont. The car was in the carpool/express lane, which is marked off from the other lanes with a double, solid white line. It looked like the driver being pulled over didn't want to cross the double white lines, perhaps concerned about getting an additional violation. The CHP car, with lights blazing, kept zigzagging across the double white lines. What are the rules here? Should the motorist have begun cutting across to the right when safe or pulled over onto the median lane?
A Steve-the-CHP-Man is pulling double duty today. He says the driver "should have yielded to the right as soon as it was safe, regardless of the double solid lines." He cites Vehicle Code Section: 21655.8.(b): "Upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle displaying a red light or siren ... a person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use lane shall exit that lane immediately upon determining that the exit can be accomplished with reasonable safety."
Q Does a service animal count as a person in a carpool lane? My husband thinks he read something about a judge ruling in California that since they go everywhere with their companion, they are considered a person and the judge threw the ticket out. Can you clarify this for me?
A A dog is a critter and not a person and won't count for carpool purposes, although some carpool cheats have been known to place hats and clothes on large dogs to make them look like people. But another reader has an intriguing idea.
Q Thanks to the Supreme Court, it appears you can get around the technicality that dogs are property and cannot count for carpool reasons if you incorporate your pet. As we all now know, "corporations are people, too."
A Hmmm. I never thought I would agree with Mitt Romney's comment that "corporations are people." But now that you mention it, I think I'll take out the necessary papers for my new carpool partner -- Zoe-the-Roadshow-Retriever!
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