Safety Tips in California

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    Cell Phone Law

    by Yaqui Updated Apr 3, 2011

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    Just a reminder when visiting California, Ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that prohibits the use of handheld mobile phones while driving in the state. Believe me the law inforcement does watch for people using their cellphones while driving.

    Effective July 1, 2008, the legislation prohibits drivers from using a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle unless the driver uses a hands-free device. Drivers who violate the law will face a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. It says only $20, yet do not be surprised if you incur extra fees tacked onto that.

    The law allows drivers to use a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, drivers of commercial vehicles to use push-to-talk phones until July 1, 2011, and allow drivers of emergency response vehicles to use a cell phone without a hands-free device.

    California joins Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, and some local jurisdictions in prohibiting the use of handheld mobile phones while driving.

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    Bug Inspectors

    by SteveOSF Updated Mar 20, 2008

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    The state has established food and agriculture checkpoints at highways along California's boarders. The intent is to protect the state's agricultural industry from bugs, pests, and other infestations. You may have to surrender your lunch when entering California. Inspectors are also present at airports. Although, only once did I see a fruit sniffing dog locate a contraband apple left over from an in flight meal that was forgotten in a carry on bag.

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    Headlamps/Windshield Wipers

    by Yaqui Written May 28, 2010

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    This law basically says, if its raining or your using your wipers, you better have on your headlights "ON".

    A motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, shall be:

    (1) Equipped with at least two headlamps, with at least one on each side of the front of the vehicle, and, except as to vehicles registered prior to January 1, 1930, they shall be located directly above or in advance of the front axle of the vehicle. The headlamps and every light source in any headlamp unit shall be located at a height of not more than 54 inches nor less than 22 inches.

    (2) Operated during darkness, or inclement weather, or both, with at least two lighted headlamps that comply with paragraph (1).

    (b) As used in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), “inclement weather” is a weather condition that is either of the following:

    (1) A condition that prevents a driver of a motor vehicle from clearly discerning a person or another motor vehicle on the highway from a distance of 1,000 feet.

    (2) A condition requiring the windshield wipers to be in continuous use due to rain, mist, snow, fog, or other precipitation or atmospheric moisture.

    Added Sec. 2, Ch. 415, Stats. 2004. Effectve January 1, 2005. Operative July 1, 2005.
    Amended Sec. 9, Ch. 311, Stats. 2006. Effective January 1, 2007.

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    Driving using a Cell Phone

    by SteveOSF Written Jun 3, 2008

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    Beginning in July 2008, it will be illegal to use a cell phone while driving a vehicle unless a hands free device is utilized. The legislation passed well in advance of the deadline, but the enactment date was delayed so people could get their hands free devices. So be sure to use a hands free device when talking on the phone and driving in California, otherwise you might get a ticket.

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    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2005

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    I have visited Death Valley National Park twice now and it has rained upon both occasions - something that simply doesn’t happen a lot … or so I am told. My first trip was mostly cloudy with a bit of rain, but my last trip was during a period of some real monsoons letting loose in the mountains above the Valley, allowing me to see the ‘work in progress’ in close detail. Driving along the road north from Shoshone through Badwater to Furnace Creek was to punch through on flooded road section after another. When you are fording flooding sections take a lot of care in the crossing - know about how deep and fast the water is moving; watch for debris; don’t drive too fast! Be careful!! Flash flooding is a real danger here, as it is throughout the Southwest.

    Waters roll at Furnace Creek Debris is also a hazard during rains Don't stop now! Alluvial fans in action Wet crow caws at Badwater
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    What do when there is an earthquake...

    by SLLiew Updated Oct 15, 2006

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    Was in California for six months, before experiencing my first real earthquake. Was in a building and it was like a big barrel rolling and rumbling in the hallway. Everyone orderly vacated the building into the designated car park where previous drills have been held.

    One thing I learnt is not to call to tell your folks or check if your loved ones are saved. Lines are jammed immediately an earthquake. Lines should be open for emergency and rescue operation.

    Also there will be aftershock tremors.

    Do not hang painting or put a shelf of books over your sleeping bed.

    In the Academy of Life Sciences in San Francisco Golden Gate Park, there is an earthquake simulator of different Richter Scale if you want to feel what a tremor is lilke until the real one.

    Fires, gas leaks and electrocution of fallen cables into water are to be looked out for.

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  • Pounder73's Profile Photo

    The State of California just bought

    by Pounder73 Updated Jun 18, 2003

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    a bunch of new cop cars. These are new white Cameros with very little “cop” lights on top. You basically can't tell these from regular cars and the state is looking for a $$ return on their investments. oh… and of course you can’t forget the SUV police vehicles either. Why do we need urban SUV police vehicles anyway?

    Some fun parts of California Driving:
    *Hwy 1: Monterey on down South. & San Francisco and head north. Ocean View
    *Hwy 120 – thru Yosemite to Mono Lake
    *Lake Tahoe
    *Mt Lassen
    *Mt Shasta area

    Some Dangerous or extremely monotonous:
    *Hwy 17 from San Jose to Santa Cruz – blind corners, over crowded
    *Hwy 5 – San Diego to Sacramento (or Redding for that matter)
    *Hwy 405 @ 101 Los Angeles = I won’t list any other LA’s there’s more
    *Hwy 15 LA to Las Vegas = the worst ever
    Around any big metro area at rush-hour(S)

    Some heavily speed trapped: cops galore:
    *Hwy 101 @ King City – 1 ½ hours south of San Jose, 20 miles north, 60 miles south of city) rumor? King’s City’s #1 income are speeding tickets. (2nd is fast food joints) not kidding.
    *Hwy 101 around San Luis Obispo / Pismo Beach / Santa Maria
    *Hwy 17 – San Jose to Santa Cruz
    *Hwy 80 – Ski Season from SF to Tahoe

    Of course these are only a noted few. Feel free to send me ones that you know for sure. (Does not count if you got a ticket passing thru an area, you may have had bad ju-Ju. Lets hope you weren’t going to or from Vegas.

    My Brother and I were busted at the same time driving home from college - Self portrait in car and action shot of my brother while we're driving.

    Bro and I caught at the same time '95

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    Laptop Controls at the Airports, Part 2

    by Kakapo2 Updated Feb 13, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Continued from Part 1

    Susan Gurley, executive director of the Alexandria, Va.-based Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), says that international travellers need to be aware of and prepared for such border searches, even though they are relatively rare. This is especially true because so far little is known about the DHS's policies relating to the practice and what it does with the information collected during searches of electronic devices, she says.

    "This is by far not an epidemic of any sort," Gurley says. "But we think people should know that they basically are leaving their right to privacy at the door when they cross the U.S. border. There is no assumption of privacy [at a port of entry]," she said. Here are five factors Gurley says travellers should know about:

    1. No evidence needed to take your laptop

    Border agents do not need any evidence or suspicion of illegal activity to examine a laptop or other electronic device.

    Every time you cross the border, customs officials have the right to look at anything in your possession, including the content on your laptop, handheld device, cell phone, USB memory stick and digital cameras, Gurley says. They have the right to both view that information and to download or mirror it if they think it's necessary, she said.

    2. Anything can be searched

    Everything on an electronic device is open to search. This includes personal photographs, personal banking, any business documents and stored or unopened email, Gurley says.

    3. Your PC might not be returned right away

    Seized devices may be kept for an indefinite period of time. Carry only a laptop or electronic device you can afford to lose or hand over for an unspecified period of time.

    Sensitive data should be sent by email before crossing the border in case the data becomes unavailable if the device is seized, she says.

    ---- Continued in Part 3 ------

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  • Yaqui's Profile Photo

    Move Over Law~

    by Yaqui Updated Mar 7, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness


    Sacramento –Caltrans wants the public to know about a new law signed by the governor that requires motorists to move over or slow down when they see a Caltrans vehicle flashing warning lights.

    The new law, Senate Bill 240 (State Senator Roderick Wright), adds Caltrans vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights to the list of vehicles for which motorists must slow down and, if safe, move over to a lane not immediately adjacent to the stationary vehicle.

    “This protects the safety of our workers,” said Caltrans Director Randy Iwasaki. “Highway workers face the same dangers from fast moving traffic as emergency personnel and tow-truck operators. We appreciate the leadership and recognition of the legislature and governor for the need to provide a safer working environment for our employees.”

    Since 1924, 174 Caltrans workers have lost their lives in the line of duty. On July 23, 2009, Caltrans worker Don Lichliter was struck and fatally injured by a passing truck on Highway 99 in Lodi. He was with another worker applying a fertilizer treatment to keep eucalyptus trees healthy. Their truck was parked on the shoulder.

    To date, 45 other states have enacted similar laws requiring motorists to move over or slow down. Violation of the new provision is punishable by a fine of not more than $50. The new law also makes the safety protections permanent by removing the sunset date (January 1, 2010) from existing law.

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    Thieves in Mariposa

    by Astrobuck Updated Dec 22, 2004

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    If you ever visit Yosemite National Park, you will be near a town called Mariposa. It is a nice town, but thieves lurk everywhere. In 1991, my camera was stolen out of my car here. That is why you don't see very many California pics. Please be careful here, and lock your valuables in your trunk whenever you leave your vehicle.

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    San Francisco: Peace, Love and Homeless People

    by sunchasers Updated Aug 25, 2007

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    San Francisco has a BIG homeless problem. And not to get into a social commentary, but it's incredibly sad that one of America's most beloved and unique cities has become more of a financially focused metropolis than the harmonic, socially equal playing field it should have become. Few people that actually embody San Francisco's hippy spirit can actually afford a home in the capital of flower power. And for years, many have turned a blind eye to the growing problem of the street people - addicts, runaways, people have mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. You may likely find statistics saying that the numbers of homeless people in SF have decreased, but the thing is there are no real accurate statistics and I would almost guarantee you will see several of these people walking around, if not groups. Most will be innocent enough, a few may be dancing happily to the tune in their head, but others will be clearly agitated at something. The best advice if going to SF is not to worry about this really, but simply be aware that it is a problem. If you want to read up more on this issue, please go to SF Gate webpage below. They have some really interesting articles on the topic as well as an interactive map as to where they mostly reside.

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  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo

    Take Care of your Laptop at any Airport, Part 1

    by Kakapo2 Written Feb 13, 2008

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    As I have not been everywhere in the US I do not want to make a USA page - but I still want to give you some important information about what can happen to you at any airport upon arrival. As many people fly in via L.A. and San Francisco I have just chosen to post this info here on my California page:

    (Text from, by Jaikumar Vijayan, Framingham, on 14 Feb 2008)

    Five things to know about laptop searches at US borders

    Every time you cross the border, customs officials have the right to look at anything in your possession, including the content on your laptop

    A lawsuit filed last week over warrantless searches of laptops and other electronic devices at US borders highlights an issue that all travellers, US citizens and others, need to be aware of when entering the country, according to the executive director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).

    The suit was filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Asian Law Caucus, two California-based civil rights groups. It asks the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to disclose information on its policies for inspecting the contents of laptops and other electronic devices at the country's ports of entry.

    The lawsuit was prompted by what the two groups contended were the growing number of reports they were receiving from travellers who claimed to have been subjected to such searches. In most instances, the searches were conducted without apparent reason and with no details offered on what information might have been viewed or downloaded by customs officials, the suit alleged.

    - continues Part 2 -

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  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo

    Laptop Controls at the Airports, Part 3

    by Kakapo2 Written Feb 13, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Continued from Part 2

    4. Don't take anything you don't want to share

    Don't carry anything on these devices that could potentially embarrass you or that you don't want others to see, Gurley says.

    If it's information you don't want to share, don't carry it. That includes data such as personal banking information, photos, correspondence, health and password information. If the device is a company-owned computer, don't carry proprietary business information or personnel records on it, the ACTE advised.

    5. Be cooperative

    Cooperate with customs officials. Ask for a receipt and a badge number if your computer is seized. Try and get whatever information you can on the reason why it was seized.

    The goal is not to hide data from border officials or the US government, Gurley says. Rather, it is about being aware that your laptop and other electronic devices in your possession could be searched and to prepare for that eventuality, Gurley says. ACTE's surveys in the past have shown that very few travellers are aware of the potential for such searches. "Our primary concern is to alert travellers that their laptops and other electronic devices can be seized at a border without explanation, provocation or even likely cause," she says.

    The lawsuit and the advice come at a time when US courts have sent mixed messages on the constitutionality of such searches. In one case, the Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit ruled that at a minimum, customs officials needed to have reasonable cause for conducting such searches. In another case, an appeals court ruled that such searches can be conducted without a warrant or reasonable cause. Both cases involved child pornography.

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    One-way Ticket? Then watch out

    by Geoff_Wright Written Jul 3, 2003

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    Having booked my one-way air tickef from Sacramento to Burbank, CA, I thought little more of it. I had about a 3-hour wait at the airport, after my hire car company dropped me off (free shuttle!!). I had to pay for, and collect my ticket at the Southwest Airlines desk, having booked the flight at a travel agents in the city 2 days before.
    The security guy said he was going to x-ray my suitcase, and to accompany him to a waiting area, which I did. After the x-ray, I saw my suitcase being thoroughly hand searched. I was then given my ticket back, and thought nothing more about it.

    Later, when I went through to departures, I was subjected to further searches, of my hand lggage, and even my camera. A full body search, with the wand, was also carried out. I even had to roll down the front of my trousers, so they could see I had nothing hidden there, LOL! Naturally, shoes are always removed.

    I'm not against any form of security searches, but was not expecting this type of search on an internal flight. I had a chat with they security guy, who pointed out that my ticket had been marked at the check-in desk, and therefore wherever I went, I would be subjected to a full search. So now you know!

    Up, up and away...
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    The Desert of Southern California

    by Astrobuck Written Dec 27, 2004

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    This picture was taken in 1992 when my cousin and I broke down on I-15 about 40 miles from Barstow, California. The desert is not a fun place to break down. After the car overheated, I had to walk 1/2 a mile to a mile down the side of the road where I found a call box. I contacted the California Highway patrol. They dispatched a tow truck, which arrived 2 hours later. Unfortunately, the vehicle we had was a last minute vehicle because the one we had to start with broke down before our trip started. Be sure of a few things if you should break down:

    1. Stay calm. Believe it or not, this is the kind of stuff wild stories are made of. This whole 4-hour episode was full of colorful situations and people, it would take too long to list them here.

    2. be sure you have plenty of water with you, at least a gallon per person. There is no telling how long you will be out here.

    3. Above all sure your vehicle is very reliable. If you do this, you can avoid the frustration.

    California Desertscape
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