Why do cars pull over on the freeway?
Q. Has anyone done a study to determine what is the most frequent cause of “stalled” cars on freeways? Modern cars do not stall, so what’s really going on? I think a large number of these cars are running out of gas because of the negligence of their operators. Do they suffer any consequences if that’s determined to be the case? The amount of lost time, productivity and increased pollution because of such negligence must be astounding.
– Kay Romer, Orange
A. Honk can indeed tell you why motorists pull over on freeways, thanks to numbers provided by the Orange County Transportation Authority.
That agency pays $5.5 million annually for a fleet of tow trucks called the Freeway Service Patrol. Although it’s nice to help people in need, the goal, frankly, is to get stranded vehicles off of freeways and their shoulders so the stopped cars, trucks and motorcycles don’t cause more congestion. Last fiscal year, the Freeway Service Patrol got called or spotted trouble 54,136 times. The breakdown:
- 27 percent, vehicles towed off of freeway
- 25 percent, flat tires (changed, if possible)
- 17 percent, no gas (got a gallon)
- 16 percent, motorists stopped to make a phone call, get directions or for some other reason not related to vehicle health
- 4 percent, no drivers, so vehicles tagged so the California Highway Patrol knows their status
- 4 percent, overheated (received water)
- 4 percent, minor mechanical issues that could be quickly fixed such as a hose needing tape
- 3 percent, vehicles needing jump-start
Unless making unlawful, non-emergency stops, motorists’ only penalty is getting stuck in a lousy spot. The Freeway Service Patrol does not charge motorists for its help.
Q. My husband’s license expires in September, and he ended up going to the Laguna Hills Department of Motor Vehicles at 9 a.m. without an appointment and waiting four hours before he got in. He was home for dinner. Having some health issues, I cannot do that. I received notification from the DMV this month about renewing my driver’s license. It expires in October, and the only appointment I could get (I took it) is Nov. 28 in Laguna Hills. I am concerned that during October and most of November I will have an expired license. Is this true?
– Dolores Parsch, Laguna Hills
A. Indeed – your license would be as expired as the Angels’ chance of making the playoffs this year.
The DMV is taking all sorts of steps to reduce the wait times, as Honk recently explained. (He is smart enough to avoid predicting that these steps will do the trick.)
Honk sent your question to the DMV up in Sacramento, Dolores, and was told by spokeswoman Cristina Valdivia that you can try for an appointment at another office, say in Costa Mesa, or hope that someone cancels and you are able to slide into that time slot. So keep punching those computer keys.
Honk figures you may be left with hitching a ride with your husband for a while, or trying to endure the wait at the DMV. If you do go, Honk recommends picking up a good novel – a real long one.
To ask Honk questions, reach him at email@example.com. He only answers those that are published.