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Shifting Gears Mid-Turn Is OK, but Controlling the Car Is Clutch


Dear Street Smart: I was quite surprised the other day when my daughter went to take her driving test. I drive a manual transmission Honda Accord in which she took her test. Upon making a left-hand turn, she was docked one point for shifting during the turn and one point for using one hand [on the wheel] during that turn because of the shifting. I had taught her that when the car signals it needs to be shifted, you shift. My car, unless it's back in the line of cars, should be shifted about halfway through the intersection. Is this an applicable rule in today's power steering and low-geared cars?

Kris Hogerhuis


There are no rules against shifting gears in the middle of a turn or taking one hand off the wheel to do so, said Evan Nossoff, a spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Driver's license applicants are, however, dinged for failing to control their vehicles during turns and this, apparently, is what happened to your daughter.

"She lost two points because she didn't have steering control and went too wide or too short on the turn," Nossoff said. "Part of our criterion for scoring is that a driver shift appropriately to maintain control of the car and, evidently, the examiner felt that in this case the shifting was part of the overall problem."

Dear Street Smart:

I read a couple of years ago that there is a proposal to put a toll road down the Santa Ana River from the Orange Freeway to the San Diego Freeway. Could you provide a timeline of project construction, please?

Gregory Scott Bales


Project developers hope to begin construction on the new toll road by 2000 and expect to complete the work three years later, according to T. Wallace Hawkes, general manager of the National Transportation Authority, a Florida-based consortium that has held the franchise for the 11-mile toll road since 1991.

The reasons it has taken so long, Hawkes said, include a two-year delay due to unsuccessful litigation challenging the bidding process and the Orange County bankruptcy, which prevented the county from becoming a partner in the project.

The NTA is designing the future toll road and applying for permits, Hawkes said. The project could be hastened, he said, by the involvement of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, builder and operator of three toll roads in South County. The two have met to discuss what form such involvement might take.

"Opening up that 57 extension is kind of the last missing link," agency spokeswoman Lisa Telles said.

The agency favors the project because it would feed the San Joaquin Hills toll road. "We have lots of experience building toll roads in Orange County, and we're just looking to see if what we've learned could be a key in getting the project going," Telles said.

Dear Street Smart:

Do Caltrans or other road maintenance departments regularly evaluate lane markings? Lanes that were re-marked for reconfiguration often have left remnants that are still visible, especially when the sun is at a low angle, causing confusion and [leading drivers] to drift from the actual lanes. I see this at a number of places where road work has taken place.

For example, when the southbound Harbor Boulevard at Adams was widened, a lane that had a pointed left-turn-only arrow was changed to allow through traffic. The pavement arrow was traced over in black but is still seen as a turn lane upon approach. Can't old adhesives, paint or other outdated road markings be better removed to avoid confusion and accidents?

Tom Buckowski

Costa Mesa

Caltrans inspects roadways under its jurisdiction for worn pavement markings about twice a year, spokeswoman Maureena Duran-Rojas said. In addition, most city maintenance departments routinely inspect their streets as well as repair problems that come to their attention in the interim.

The stretch of road you mention apparently suffered from a "contractor's oversight," said David Sorge, associate engineer for Costa Mesa. Typically, he said, the city sandblasts away old pavement markings after new ones are applied. In this case, however, the sandblasting was postponed in deference to a separate project to replace all current markings along that part of Harbor by September.

But instead of following the usual procedure of blacking large portions of the road to avoid leaving outlines, he said contractors inadvertently left the outlines of the arrow visible.

Sorge said the city will fix the problem this week.


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 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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