Traffic Cop: Control Your Patience at Controlled Intersections

From a reader confused about controlled lights:

Monty, this one signal in particular is in Redding at North Market (Highway 273) and Twin View Boulevard and North Point. As I am approaching it to make a left turn, the green light is on for the northbound traffic, and not one car is close to the intersection going south, and the signal will not go green for a left turn.

Also, there have been times when there are four or five cars ahead of mine, and I am not quite two car lengths behind, and the signal turns red. The signal for the through-traffic going north is still green and there are no cars heading south.  But the left turn lane has to wait for both the east and west signals to go through their turns, even when there are no cars waiting.

The type of intersection that you are describing is known as a traffic actuated intersection. The way it is designed to operate is that for the main flow of traffic, which in this case is North Market Street or State Route 273, the light will stay green for north- and southbound traffic until a sensor alerts the system that a vehicle from one of the two side roads, Twin View Boulevard or North Point, is interested in entering this roadway. If there is very little to no traffic on North Market, the signal for its drivers will change to yellow and then to red.

If you are traveling north on North Market and want to turn left onto North Point, once you enter the designated left turn lane, the sensor will then notify the system of your intention and will stop the southbound lane when appropriate, to allow you the green light. Regardless of which direction you are traveling, you have to give the system time to recognize that you are where you are and then notify the rest of the system that a change needs to be made to accommodate you. All in all, these systems generally are very reliable, and occasionally may go off cycle for a moment, but will self-correct the majority of the time.

Hi, Monty. Being a former police officer many years ago in the late 50s and 60s, I recall all cars in California had to have both a rear and front license plate.

My friends and I have noticed lately that many cars only have a rear plate (Calif) and no front license plate.  We also noticed that many of the new cars do not have a location on the front to install a front plate.  No screw holes, cutouts, etc.  Can you tell me what the law is on this and if it has changed since my days in law enforcement, and about when the law changed.  Thanks for the information.  I tried to find it on the DMV website to no avail.

Even Corvettes and Porsches must show both plates.

Your recollection is correct. The California Vehicle Code states, “When two license plates are issued by the department for use upon a vehicle, they shall be attached to the vehicle for which they were issued, one in the front and the other in the rear.”

If you buy a used vehicle from a dealership, that vehicle should have both plates affixed to the vehicle at the time of sale. You are paying for the registration, which includes two plates.

The vehicle code further states that should you purchase a new vehicle, that a front license plate bracket shall be provided and installed by the dealership at no extra cost.

No matter what type of vehicle you are interested in, be it a Corvette, Porsche, or any other kind that just would not look cool with a front plate, they all are required to have both plates displayed and were at some point issued two plates.

So now that I have once again ruined someone’s day by telling them what they probably already knew, but just wanted to do their way, please go out and enjoy the ride — with both plates displayed.

Monty Hight is a retired California Highway Patrol officer and Public Information Officer. He is the North State AVOID Campaign’s Public Information Officer. He lives in Redding. More information on AVOID can be found here.

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Monty Hight
Monty Hight is a retired California Highway Patrol officer and public information officer. He is the North State AVOID Campaign’s spokesman. He lives in Redding.
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4 Responses

  1. Avatar rmv says:

    THANK YOU Monty! Even though we might not agree with all the laws, (better looking at the green grass, than the roots?)

  2. Avatar Adrienne jacoby says:

    A reminder to all drivers reading this: NO RIGHT TURN OFF EAST ST. ON TO 44E ON A RED LIGHT. I use this route often and it seems like every time I'm there someone turn right on a red light. It's well posted. . . .

    Which brings me to another intersection with the same problem. Heading South on 273 at Breslauer Way (formerly hospital Ln.). No right turns are allowed on red. I use this route when heading home and again, almost every time I'm there, someone runs the red light and goes to the frontage road. This is a rather complicated and potentially dangerous intersection but the addition of the "no turn on red" policy mitigated it to a large extent. Pay attention, folks!! Again, it is well posted.

  3. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    About 20 years ago I bought a used Toyota that only had one plate, on the back. A few years later near the San Jose Courthouse, I got a ticket for $90 for no front plate. So I went down to the DMV and got a new pair of plates and new stickers for about $50. As I was pulling the old plates off the back I noticed that both plates were stuck together and had been on the car the whole time.

  4. Avatar Stella says:

    These "traffic actuated" traffic lights, as you call them, are ubiquitous in Redding. These lights can alternate between red, green, then red again within seconds, taking oncoming traffic completely by surprise. Also, there are traffic light corridors through Redding (299, between I-5 and Market St., along with many others) through which it would make much more sense to have timed lights instead of " traffic actuated" to prevent speeding, save gas, limit air pollution from the braking-accelerating syndrome. Why does the city favor this type of traffic light so much? I have not encountered them so much in other cities that I've lived. I don't understand why the city seems to favor them so much–maybe you can explain.