Traffic Cop: What’s the Flap on No Flaps?

My wife and I live east of Shingletown at Viola. Both our vehicles have several star cracks in the windshields and we have replaced windshields three or four times since we moved here eleven years ago. It is getting tedious and expensive. This is all the result of being behind people who don’t have mudflaps on their vehicles as we travel up and down highway 44. Jacked up 4×4 pickups are the worst offenders though commercial trucks, trailers and SUV’s are culpable as well. What, if any, are the laws that govern mudflaps. I hope there are some because common sense and courtesy are apparently not at work here.

I too am the owner of a windshield with more stars than the big dipper.  The vehicle code is very specific when it comes to this subject.  No person shall operate any motor vehicle having three or more wheels, any trailer, or semitrailer unless equipped with fenders, covers, or devices, including flaps or splash aprons, or unless the body of the vehicle or attachments thereto afford adequate protection to effectively minimize the spray or splash of water or mud to the rear of the vehicle and all such equipment or such body or attachments thereto shall be at least as wide as the tire tread.

Just buying some aftermarket flaps doesn’t correct the problem.  They have to be installed at the proper height and width.  The formula for this is very simple.  You measure the distance from the center of the rear axle to the very most rear portion of the vehicle (the rear bumper).  For this example, let’s say it is three feet.  The bottom of the flap can be no higher than one third that distance.  One foot from the ground.  The flap must be as wide as the tire tread.

Many times people will say, “Well I bought it from the dealer this way”.  Vehicles from the manufacturer to the dealerships all have to be in compliance.  It’s when the customer adds oversized tires that problems arise.  When someone trades in their used 4×4 with all their modifications and someone else now owes it, they also are responsible for all of those modifications.

We all hate to be washing our vehicles and see all of the dinks and dents to the front of our vehicles and windshields.  Simply complying with these fenders, covers or devices including flaps will help everyone out.

So while I am down at Big Ray’s getting my windshield repaired, the question regarding rear view mirrors was brought up. As with everything else, we have a law regarding this;

Every motor vehicle registered and every motorcycle subject to registration in this state shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle.

Every motor vehicle subject to registration in this state, except a motorcycle, shall be equipped with not less than two such mirrors, including one affixed to the left-hand side.

b) The following described types of motor vehicles, of a type subject to registration, shall be equipped with mirrors on both the left- and right-hand sides of the vehicle so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway through each mirror for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle:

(1) A motor vehicle so constructed or loaded as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear.

(2) A motor vehicle towing a vehicle and the towed vehicle or load thereon obstructs the driver’s view to the rear.

Simply put, all of our cars and trucks are required to have two rear view mirrors and one of them has to be on the left side.  After that you can have the one commonly affixed to the windshield or another mirror on the right side.  Or better yet, all three.

You go down to Costco and purchase that big screen television and squeeze it into the trunk of your car, but the truck deck will not close and is blocking the view out the rear window, you need to have that right side mirror.

Your son has convinced you that the rear window needs to be tinted as dark as possible.  You need that right side mirror.  Yes, you can tint that rear window limo black, but you have to have the right side mirror.  Window tinting is a subject unto itself and I hope to address in a future column.

I realize that things happen that are out of our control, but reducing objects being thrown up from the roadway by our vehicles is something that we do have some control over and being able to not only see what’s ahead of us, but what’s behind or to the side is another thing we have control over.  Keeping mud flaps and mirrors in mind please go out and enjoy the ride.

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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3 Responses

  1. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Driving these days can be very frustrating. There are those who will not abide by the laws. And so many people just don't signal. I wonder if they are awake, or what. Also, one really has to drive as though others may make a mistake; in other words, drive defensively. Easy for me to say.

  2. Avatar askMarc says:

    You could just not follow so close. Traveling at a safe distance will save your windshield. Then you too could be law abiding.

  3. Avatar mike says:

    I would have too agree. Stop tail gate'in ya fool!