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Sticking Head Out of Limo Sunroof Is Looking for Trouble

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

This past Saturday , we saw what I thought was a dangerous situation. It was a couple in a limousine sticking out of the sunroof and drinking.

If there was an accident, who would have been at fault?

Also, we saw the same thing happen about three months ago on the freeway, but this time it was three limousines all together going at 70 mph with college kids trying to hand off drinks to each limo via the sunroofs.

Mario Luna

Anaheim

You might be surprised to learn that it is not illegal to ride without a seat belt in the back seat of a limousine, nor to drink there , provided a partition separates you from the driver.

Once you stick your head out the sunroof, however, you are in violation of the Vehicle Code, for which you and the limousine driver can be cited.

If you are drinking while sticking your head out the sunroof, says Sam Samra, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, you could be cited under local ordinances prohibiting drinking in public.

“It’s a bad idea,” Samra says of poking your head where it shouldn’t be poked. “If the driver of that limo has to make an emergency stop for any reason, you have no avenue of safety; your body is going to come into contact with the roof portion of that sunroof and you’re going to be severely injured if not ejected. It has kind of a disaster-waiting-for-a- place-to-happen feel to it.”

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Dear Street Smart:

Someone once told me I could park in a yellow loading zone any time between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. without fear of a citation even if I wasn’t loading anything heavier than my tummy at a fine restaurant. I’ve parked for hours in some prize loading zone locations. However, I’m still a little yellow when I do this, even though I’ve never been tagged or towed. What is the law about loading zone parking when there’s no sign with specifics?

Garry Short

Newport Beach

The California Vehicle Code defers on this matter to local ordinances, which can vary from city to city. In Newport Beach, where you live, most yellow loading zones are marked with black letters indicating the hours they are in effect--often 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. If there are no markings, a police spokesman says, then you must observe the no-parking-except-when-loading rule.

In practice, of course, busting people for parking illegally in the dead of the night is not a high police priority.

Dear Street Smart:

The recent spate of “wrong-way” head-on collisions on the freeways has lead to discussions of alcohol/drugs, suicide and inadequate signage, but nowhere have I found a procedure for the innocent party to survive. Assume that you are driving along the freeway at 55 mph, and you observe a “wrong-way” driver one to two miles away coming at you. That should allow about a minute of reaction time. What advice do traffic engineers or the California Highway Patrol offer?

R. Henderson

San Juan Capistrano

Slow down immediately to minimize the impact of any collision. Then, as quickly and safely as possible, pull over onto the right shoulder, stop your car and wait for the other driver to pass, according to the CHP.

Studies have shown that most wrong-way drivers are intoxicated and unaware they are driving the wrong way. Your first priority, therefore, should be to get out of the way.

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 David Haldane, c/o Street Smart, The Times Orange County Edition, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, send faxes to (714) 966-7711 or e-mail him at David.Haldane@latimes.com. 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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