California Department of Transportation
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Before driving, check with the Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) 800.427.7623

The following questions and answers represent some of the comments and requests the Department has received regarding the Highway Condition Information.

1. I occasionally see things that need repair or seem to have been overlooked for some
time such as pot holes, guardrail and signs that are down; how can I report these to Caltrans
?

The conditions that you describe can be reported on our web site at the following location:
http://www.dot.ca.gov/maintform.html This is a form to fill out for Maintenance related problems such as the ones you mentioned. There is also a form that can be filled out for problems related
to traffic or construction and that form is located at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/pioform.html

2. How do I report highway emergencies such as large pieces of debris in the road that are causing traffic to swerve severely and may immediately cause an accident?

The web pages are not the proper place to report highway emergencies. E-mail may not be read immediately. A report sent to us about an emergency situation may not be read for several days.

If you see large pieces of debris on the traveled way that are causing traffic to swerve sharply or slow down quickly it should be reported immediately by calling the CHP or 911. CHP will advise Caltrans crews immediately of the danger and dispatch a crew or set up a traffic break to remove the danger.

3. Why isn't there a date and time stamp in each of your highway files?

At one time we did put the time and date in each file, but we discontinued that practice because many people were under the mistaken impression that a time stamp several hours old was not current information. To the contrary, our office is staffed 24 hours a day, year around. The road information is constantly being updated. What you see on the Web Site or hear on the recording is always the latest information we have received. It won't change or be updated unless the information changes.

We now have available a means to view the last time or date the highway files were last edited or changed however, this does not show when an incident in the file was last changed, added or deleted.

4. Why don't you show all of the planned construction or maintenance projects in your files?

Planned closures are exactly that, planned. There are approximately 500 projects a day planned for our highways statewide. Frequently these projects are suspended for the day for many reasons, including inclement weather and manpower shortages. We put information out that we know is affecting the normal flow of traffic and therefore the most useful to travelers. Listing projects that won't disrupt traffic could be misleading. For example, if you saw a long list of projects affecting the route you were planning to use, you may decide to take another route that would be considerably longer and more time-consuming. But in reality, perhaps only one project in the list on your original planned route may be affecting the flow of traffic. Therefore, we only list those projects that we know are affecting the normal flow of traffic.

5. Do you have an FTP site and how can we down load your information to our site?

We do not have an FTP site. We can assist you on an individual basis if you are another governmental agency or have a specific web site, but we cannot accommodate every single user. Send us an E-mail note and we will contact you with instructions.

6. We would like to see graphic files of each highway. Why don't you use more graphics?

Graphics are nice and enhance many web sites. We don't use a lot of graphics because of space limitations and it takes much longer for complex graphics to load into your computer. Motorists check the Highway Condition page to save time. We don't want to make them wait for important highway information because of slow-loading graphics.

7. When you receive information about a certain highway, how long does it take to update your recordings and the Internet?

Under normal circumstances it takes our dispatchers about 3-5 minutes to prepare and transmit the information to the Internet and on the Highway Information recordings.

8. What kind of equipment do you use to produce your highway information?

Our main server is a Hewlett Packard 9000 series server with a Unix operating system. Dispatchers use standard Wintel workstations with a Unix software interface.

9. What is the maximum speed limit on rural two lane highways, the vehicle code states 65 MPH but I only see 55 MPH signs posted?

Senate Bill 848 (SB-848) was enacted in early April 1996. This bill repealed, amended and added sections to the vehicle code. Those sections have not yet been published in the code books. The code now reads:

22349. (a) Except as provided in Section 22356, no person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 65 miles per hour.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall drive a vehicle upon a two-lane, undivided highway at a speed greater than 55 miles per hour unless that highway, or portion thereof, has been posted for a higher speed by the Department of Transportation or appropriate local agency upon the basis of an engineering and traffic survey. For purposes of this subdivision, a two lane, undivided highway is a highway with not more than two through lanes and does not include passing lanes.

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that there be reasonable signing on affected two-lane, undivided highways described in subdivision (b) in continuing the 55 miles-per-hour speed limit, including placing signs at county boundaries to the extent possible, and at other appropriate locations. 70 MPH speed limits have been implemented on specific sections of some routes in California.

10. Do you have a page available that tells how to decipher your road information in the highway files?

Yes we do. Click here to get the information.

11. Are studded snow tires, cable chains and automatic traction devices (ATD's) legal in California?

We provide a portion of the California Vehicle Code on tires and traction devices on our web site. For information on studded tires click on section 27454 and read 27454, 27454b and 27454e regarding studded tires. For information on cable chains and ATD's click on 27459 and read sections 27459, 27459.5 and Section 605.

"What are ATD's?" Automatic Traction Devices (ATD) are traction devices that can be deployed by the driver as needed. They are used primarily on Emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks and ambulances, and occasionally school buses. ATD's are sometimes installed on large trucks and a few of the snow plows in Caltrans' fleet. Due to their initial cost and inability to be used on front-wheel drive steering axles, they are not normally installed or used on cars.

If you would like to view a full version of the California Vehicle Code it can be located at the following location, under California Law: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov

12. What happened to the Daily Snow Depth Report?

The Daily Snow Depths have been removed because the information is no longer viable. Many of the sites where the information was recorded were all manually read and many times the information was not reliable. The snow depth stations are very old and several have been removed from service. We feel that the information provided was no longer reliable enough to warrant posting.

A more comprehensive report on snow conditions is avaialble through the Department of Water Resources at: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/current/snow