Even Good Drivers Are Subjected to DMV's Pop Quizzes


Dear Street Smart:

I recently received in the mail a notice to renew my driver's license. With the notice came a list of driving safety questions I had to answer and bring with me to the DMV at an appointed date and time.

For the past 12 years I have always just renewed my license by mail and I've never had to take a pop quiz. I have had no tickets in that time either. What gives?

Warren Wells


Despite a person's good driving record, the Department of Motor Vehicles likes to periodically check knowledge of driving safety and the rules of the road, which are constantly being updated and changed. Twelve years is a long time to go untethered, so to speak, said Bill Madison, a spokesman for the DMV in Sacramento.

The test you got in the mail most likely has five or six questions, and the answers can be found in the California Driver Handbook published each year by the DMV. You are encouraged to use this handbook when filling out your test before bringing it to your DMV appointment.

Some of the questions may require common sense answers not necessarily found in the handbook. Here's a sampling of test questions:

* When in a minor accident and the vehicles involved are not disabled, you should: a) leave the vehicles where they are until the police arrive; b) move the vehicles out of the traffic lanes; c) drive on to your destination. B is the correct answer.

* Blocking an intersection is: a) permitted if you enter on a green or yellow light and cannot clear the intersection; b) never permitted; c) permitted if the adjacent lane is blocked. B is the correct answer.

* A child under 4 years old or weighing less than 40 pounds in a moving vehicle must be fastened in an approved safety seat: a) at the parent's discretion; b) always; c) only when driving on freeways. Again, the correct answer is B, and you better have known this--it's been written about plenty in Street Smart.

So there it is. Good luck on your test, and may your roads be smooth and your lights be green.


Dear Street Smart:

There are a couple of areas in Costa Mesa that need redoing. The Segerstrom bridge across Bristol Street is a great walk saver, but the blue lights are an accident waiting to happen.

Try driving along Bristol at night with headlights coming at you, red brake lights in front of you, plus green, red and yellow traffic lights, as well as all those blue lights, and tell me it is not distracting. Our out-of-town visitor was amazed.

Also, there should be a bus lane on 17th Street, going from Newport Beach to Irvine, in front of the Alpha Beta, etc. Without it, traffic backs up. Other areas have bus lanes. Why not there?

I.B. Merles

Costa Mesa

I couldn't find anyone to agree with you about the blue decorative lighting on the Segerstrom bridge. To quote David Sorge, Costa Mesa's traffic engineer, "There is no conflict. We see the bridge as an enhancement to the area and we are very pleased that Segerstrom did that."

Addressing your second concern, Sorge does agree about the need for a bus lane on 17th Street, but money is simply not available. Bus lanes have always had very low priority in the grand scheme of transportation, and they have suffered an even lower priority since the Orange County financial debacle.

Costa Mesa traffic engineers already have looked at three locations that might be suitable for bus lanes, and the area you mention is one of them, Sorge said. It has an advantage over other areas in that it would not require the purchase of right of way. Still, the lack of funds weighs heavily.

If you want to stress the need for a bus lane, you are encouraged to write a letter and send any documentation to David Sorge, 77 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

Street Smart appears Mondays in The Times Orange County Edition. Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about traffic, commuting and what makes it difficult to get around in Orange County. Include simple sketches if helpful. Letters may be published in upcoming columns. Please write to Caroline Lemke, c/o Street Smart, The Times Orange County, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted.

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