May 16, 2022

Botu Linum

The Car & Automotive Devotees

Why are there white fire trucks?

2 min read

Q: I bought a new car in late 2019 and have never driven it farther south than Salinas. I recently received two Notices of Toll Evasion Violation from Metro ExpressLanes in Torrance. Another car, apparently with the same license plate as mine, is driving in the express lanes on Interstate 10 in Los Angeles without a FasTrak account.

I’ve contested both notices using footage from one of my home security cameras which shows me driving from my residence with a time stamp that makes it clear my car couldn’t physically be on I-10 in L.A. when the violations were recorded. I’m hoping my responses will resolve the issue, but am worried that these notices will continue.

How common is this?

Kate A., San Jose

A: Not common, but it happens, for a couple of reasons. One is that officials misread the license plate number on the footage or transcribe it incorrectly. A more sinister reason is that a scofflaw uses a black marker or in some other way changes their apparent license plate number as a way to dodge fees.

Metro ExpressLane staff almost automatically reject appeals, but keep pressing, as you have evidence that you were not present where and when the violations were recorded.

Q: This is something that might be a little different from your usual letter that you receive, but I think you’re the guy to find the answer. Growing up, every fire truck I would see was red. How come Santa Clara County (Fire Department) has white fire trucks instead of red ones?

Robert Bergman, Cupertino

A: You’ll be seeing more white or lime-colored trucks since red does not stand out that well, even with sirens and lights flashing, especially at night. White or bright yellow-green fire trucks are much more visible. To increase visibility of the red fire engines, some departments are adding a lot of reflective striping to them.

Q: Regarding your description of the “appearance of ripples,” which may “look” like washboarding surface on Alma Avenue, I suggest you take an eastbound drive on Alma. Pay close attention to the area just past Lelong to Lick. You, too, will see the 3-D effect of that road. It’s the next best thing to a Santa Clara County roller coaster. It has been this way since they opened the road after resurfacing it.

Blanche Liggett

How can there be a car in Los Angeles with the same license plate as mine?