Q In a recent column, the subject of earbuds not being allowed in both ears was discussed while driving. Why is this illegal? If the logic is that we need to be able to hear emergency vehicle sirens or such, does that mean that we should not allow deaf people to drive?
A The law says earplugs, earbuds and headsets can cover only one ear so a driver can better hear around his vehicle. But experts say there's a big difference between a deaf driver who has learned to use other senses to compensate for a lack of hearing and a driver who is listening to music with a headset covering both ears -- or yakking on a cellphone.
Marcia-the-Audiologist once told Roadshow that a deaf driver "is quite likely a better driver than anyone chatting on a cellphone. In fact, it is quite likely that she and other severely hearing-impaired or deaf drivers are far more alert to traffic and road conditions than normal-hearing drivers. They are quite visually alert and constantly scanning their environment for information, and they will see potentially dangerous situations before the rest of us with tunnel vision."
In addition, autos can be equipped with devices to aid the hearing-impaired, such as a device to activate a flashing red light on the dash to warn of an approaching emergency vehicle with its lights on.
Q Westbound traffic on Interstate 80 has been split for several weeks into separate lanes between Kingvale and Emigrant Gap over the Sierra. When will the lanes go back to normal?
A Soon, maybe Oct. 18.
Q I've been reading your column for decades and I'm finally writing to you.
Holly Street is a major thoroughfare that takes people from Highway 101 into downtown San Carlos. The stretch to El Camino Real is always jammed at rush hour, lunch hour and on weekends. I feel that a big reason is the way lanes are laid out.
There is room for two lanes in each direction on Holly when no cars are parked. There are signs stating "Form Two Lanes" during rush hour but I have never seen this work. Once, I drove next to a truck on this stretch during rush hour, and was verbally threatened by the driver for what he considered my bad driving.
When I grew up in Pasadena, we had roads that had an extra lane at rush hour thanks to no parking signs on the curb lanes, just like Holly. But in Pasadena, there were lane lines painted next to the parking spaces so it clearly looks like an extra lane. What we need on Holly are painted lane lines so that when no cars are parked, two lanes are clearly visible. Can you help us?
A Jay-the-City-Traffic- Man checked into this and could find no definitive reason why stripes were not added on Holly to move traffic in two lanes when it is allowed. He plans to bring your request to the city's transportation commission for further discussion.
Q Do we like to warn people of easy ways to avoid expensive tickets? Where Highway 237 ends at El Camino in Mountain View, traffic cops have been standing on the corner almost every morning nabbing people who turn right at the wrong times, turn right on red without stopping, turn right on red while southbound El Camino traffic does a legal U-turn or turn into a pedestrian's path.
The officer stands on the sidewalk watching all this go on, and just steps out and points his victim to the curb for a chat. He never seems to be lonely. I've seen a definite improvement in many drivers lately, even though there is usually a long line to turn right. The frequent presence of the police there has raised my alertness without costing me any fines, so I feel lucky. It can't hurt to spread the word.
A Word has been spread.
Go to Roadshow's expanded online presence at www.mercurynews.com/mr-roadshow and look for rules of the road, construction updates and favorite stories. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at email@example.com or 408-920-5335.