Inquiring Minds Want to Know…

This afternoon a Mountain View Police Department traffic officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow moving car traveling in the eastbound #3 lane on El Camino Real, near Rengstorff Ave. The car was traveling at 24 mph in a 35 mph zone. As the officer approached the slow moving car he realized it was a Google Autonomous Vehicle. The officer stopped the car and made contact with the operators to learn more about how the car was choosing speeds along certain roadways and to educate the operators about impeding traffic per 22400(a) of the California Vehicle Code. The Google self-driving cars operate under the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Definition per 385.5 of the California Vehicle Code and can only be operated on roadways with speed limits at or under 35 mph. In this case, it was lawful for the car to be traveling on the street as El Camino Real is rated at 35 mph.

The Mountain View Police Department meets regularly with Google to ensure that their vehicles operate safely in our community.

Media inquiries can be directed to policepio@mountainview.gov

144 thoughts on “Inquiring Minds Want to Know…

  1. Pingback: Google Self-Driving Car Gets Pulled Over, Doesn’t Get a Ticket | Re/code

      1. Knee Deep

        That’s because you never had the unfortunate experience to be driving behind your grandfather.

      2. SlakeFistcrunch

        I was making a joke. On account of “to slow” instead of “too slowly.”

      3. H

        NEVs are legally prohibited from driving faster than 25mph, as I understand it. Presumably your gramps was using a car that didn’t have that restriction.

  2. Pingback: Google self-driving car pulled over for driving too slow, doesn’t get a ticket | 9to5Google

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  4. Pingback: This Google Self-Driving Car Just Got Pulled Over By The Cops For Driving Too Slow – Tech Times | Everyday News Update

  5. name-no-relevant

    It would have been more interesting if the speed limit had been 25 and traffic was “backing up” behind it.

    (Eg, all the human drivers wanted to drive *faster* than the speed limit)

    1. Jeffrey Kemp

      The vehicle was driving at 24mph. The vehicle’s MAXIMUM legal speed is 25mph, and is legally entitled to drive on roads rated at 35mph. Would you be happy to pay a fine for going 1mph LESS than your legal speed limit?

    2. LC

      A limit is exactly that; a limit. It doesn’t mean “You MUST drive at this speed” it means “You must NOT exceed this speed” – you should not be ticketed for driving UNDER the speed limit.

      1. George

        Yes, you absolutely can, if it’s a danger…did you even read the fuckin article?

      2. cs

        Exactly. Idiots who think the speed limit is a minimum instead of a maximum are a big part of why I hate driving.

      3. jimmy

        No a ticket would be ridiculous but it is so dangerous for that car to be going slower than the speed limit. Does t matter who it is . you should be going the speed limit for other people to not hit you or other people to get in accidents because old nanny wanted to drive 10 miles under the speed limit it costs life’s drama and its not hard we have been driving our entire lives why can’t people do it ?

      4. larry marak

        You’re absolutely right. Bicycles are subject to all motor vehicle laws, and street speeds for bikes is 8 to 12 mph on average. The speed limit is the absolute top speed you are allowed to travel at.

    3. Chris Meadows

      Generally speaking, speed limits are maximums, not minimums. You only see minimum speed limits on freeways, interstates, etc., which this was not one of.

    4. Matt

      If you read the neighborhood electric vehicle law it says the vehicles may not travel over 25 mph, but they may travel on roads with speed limits up to 35 mph. Impeding traffic is allowed if it is due to being in compliance with the law. Therefore they were doing exactly as they should have and rightly received no ticket.

      1. Io

        In California, I usually assume a significantly slower car is being driven by a stoned person or a (often older) person who isn’t comfortable on the road. These folks make me WAY more nervous than an alert mildly-speeding person, and I encourage the police to pull over slow cars more often, please! Ideally do drug tests for possible marijuana-DUIs, too. (I’m a proponent of legalized weed for adults, even beyond medical, but think we need to crack down on DUIs of all kinds.)

        Beyond catching DUIs, common sense is that we should discourage cars going significantly under the speed limit (which certainly describes 25 in a 35) when there’s no good reason for it (good reasons = kids nearby, weather conditions, other erratic drivers, etc.). First, slow cars cause traffic and traffic jams. This is MATHEMATICALLY PROVEN: if there’s any medium+ density of cars, you get a ripple effect from slow cars. You can look up peer-reviewed papers on this, or you can just observe highway 101 during rush hour and see what happens behind a pointlessly-slow car. Apparently, this obnoxious phenomenon is one of the reasons Google is developing automated cars.

        Second, slow cars frustrate other drivers, who reasonably would like to safely go the posted speed limit, since that’s an efficient way to travel. Don’t troll and say people shouldn’t go the posted speed limit because that’s a “maximum” — bullsh*t, that’s how most people drive, and the road has been rated for that speed, other factors (kids out playing, etc.) considered. Frustrated drivers may then act out in dangerous moves to get around the slow car, and while this isn’t good, it’s human nature. Everyone driving in rational, predictable ways means fewer accidents.

        It’s unfortunate that at least right now automated cars can’t act like normal efficient drivers, and the too-slow limit on them leads to the traffic and potential for accidents they’re being designed to prevent!

      2. larry marak

        I’m 65 and always drive the limit or 5 miles slower. Often tailgating requires that you drive slower than the maximum allowed speed in order to increase the distance between your car and the one ahead to a safe distance.

    5. AMKohn

      No, if this is an issue then it’s a legal oversight on California’s part. The law permitting them to drive is for cars that don’t have airbags, so they’re known to be limited to 25mph, and allows them to drive in zones up to and including 35mph.

      So, if you make a law allowing a car that can only do 25mph to drive in a 35mph zone, you can’t exactly turn around and ticket them.

      1. Kris Gundel

        He shouldn’t be ticketed anyway because the car is doing the driving. Not the people inside it. People cannot be held responsible for a robot’s actions.

      2. Mountain View PD

        Currently, if there is a human inside an autonomous car, he or she would be responsible for the citation. If there was no one in the car, well the state of California is still working on that law

      1. Elliot

        I’m curious, why was a warning given if the legal maximum speed for the vehicle is 25 miles per hour? What is the desired behavior here?

    6. Kered

      Not sure if that’s a joke, but why would they get a ticket? You said so yourself, 35 is the speed “limit”. Meaning, you can’t go faster than 35. You certainly can go slower.

      1. Bob Shanteau

        CVC 22400(a) gives an exception for slow speeds when such slow speed is required to comply with law, so it does not apply in this case. The officer made a mistake.

    7. Kurt

      It is a speed “LIMIT” – as in the maximum speed you are legally allowed to travel on that road. It says nothing about what the minimum speed is.

      1. George

        Driving too slowly can also be a violation. Did you even read the article?

      2. arreffem

        Speed limits in California don’t actually work that way:) Speed limits below 55 MPH are prima facie limits, not absolute ones.

    8. Michael

      Steven Howe, I’m confused by your comment. The speed LIMIT is 35. If the car was not exceeding the speed LIMIT why should they have gotten a ticket? Last time I checked the rules of the road it was expectable to drive under the speed limit, just not over it.

      1. MGH

        I’m not entirely sure how this would violate 22400(a):

        “22400. (a) No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law.”

        “…unless the reduced speed is… in compliance with law.”

        This would have been in compliance with the following law:
        Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV)/Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) and Golf Cart Registration (FFVR 37)

        Thus neither law would have been in violation, because 22400(a) says its acceptable.

    9. patg

      Do you not know what “speed limit” means? It’s the maximum speed limit allowed by law. Why should they have received a ticket for not breaking any law?

      1. Amy

        So the car knew to automatically pull over when the officer hit the lights and sirens?

  6. required

    What was happening in the #1&2 lane that kept the drivers from passing? Seems to me that 10mph variance in the speed limit is allowed.

      1. Skip

        How can you be impeding traffic on a multi-lane highway? The other vehicles could have easily passed around the slower moving vehicle. Also, as others have pointed out, you cannot even reasonably give a warning to this vehicle given the “unless” provisions of 22400(a):

        22400. (a) No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law.

      2. Diana Egly

        as I read 22400 (a) the law pertains to highways. El Camino is officially State Road 82. California distinguishes between highways and state roads in many of its driving laws. It is unclear in my mind exactly what the overlap is for El Camino.

      3. Diana Egly

        I’m confused. Doesn’t that violation refer to highways. I thought CA traffic code distinguishes between state roads and highways.

      4. Mountain View PD

        “Highways” as defined in the vehicle code 360 are a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes streets like El Camino Real as well as the highway/freeways terms we are more familiar with.

      5. Io

        Slow drivers with no reason for moving slowly — especially on freeways– is such a common and obnoxious phenomenon. I wish the police would crack down more. They are dangerous for changing traffic patterns and they CAUSE traffic jams. People who think otherwise are simply scientifically wrong.

  7. Fritz H.

    This is awesome. A logical stop by the police, and everything turned out to be normal and legal. These self-driving cars are pretty fascinating. Thanks for the update!

  8. John

    So a self-driving car was illegally blocking traffic in general and, going more than 5 miles under the speed limit with 5 or more cars (presumably) backed up behind it failed to pull over to let them pass–it was breaking the law. And Mountain View Police allowed this because they wanted to preserve good relations with a powerful corporation in their jurisdiction.

    1. Mitch Turck

      Under the vehicle code by which Google cars operate, they are a) allowed to travel on roads with 35mph speed limit ratings, and b) not allowed to travel those roads at speeds above 25mph. So everything was legal, to the letter. I learned that by reading the information in this article.

      If you have a beef with the obstruction of traffic, which is a fair concern, then your beef is with the NEV vehicle code under which these (and other, non-Google, non-autonomous) vehicles operate, which allows for this exact scenario.

      1. John

        Being subject to a lower maximum speed limit does not excuse blocking traffic or violating any other traffic law. The self-driving car should have pulled over to allow those behind it to pass as it was legally obligated to do.

      2. jcake306

        there are 3 lanes in each direction on this road correct? why couldn’t the other cars have passed the google car in 1 of the other lanes???

      3. Mountain View PD

        Yes, there are two other lanes. We don’t know why the other cars did not chose to pass but the officer was first drawn to the issue when he noticed the stack of cars behind the Google car.

      4. Mike

        The other vehicles that were stacking up behind it probably weren’t passing it because they were too busy trying to look at the self driving car as it is an oddity to them. The probably should have been pulled over too and also given the same warning.

  9. #BlackCarsMatter

    Thank god the car was white. If it had been a black car it might have been impounded and crushed in the back of a squad car.

    1. GrowUp

      Really dude? People are discussing a nuanced legal situation, in a society that is at interesting technological crossroads of automation and all you can do is troll?

      It is not even funny because you don’t serve the cause of #BlackLivesMatter either with this troll.

  10. Mitch Turck

    Thanks for sharing this info. Since this will likely generate some speculative publicity, it may be worth adding to the article the fact that the vehicle may not legally operate above 25mph on a paved surface, per the regulations you’ve linked to here (which many people won’t read).

  11. Joe Blow

    It says, “No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law.”

    In order to be in compliance with the law, they had to travel 25 MPH or under. How were they legally “impeding traffic?” One condition of the law is “unless….. or in compliance with law.” It is pretty clear there was no law broken.

    1. jcake306

      25 in a 35 seems to be applying that too broadly.. I could understand 35 or 25 in a 50mph speed limit, or if there was just 1 lane in each direction.

    2. Happy

      “No person shall drive upon a ‘highway’…” unless the legal definition of highway in California is not the commonly used definition of highway, there wasn’t a traffic violation.

      1. This Is My Display Name

        California Vehicle Code:

        “360. ‘Highway’ is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly
        maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of
        vehicular travel. Highway includes street.”

        Not sure why you didn’t look that up yourself before commenting, but whatever.

  12. Mark

    Impeding traffic is a ticketable offence, they’re lucky there’s a loophole for their little pet project.

    1. Joe Vernola

      Yeah, a multibillion dollar company is “lucky” they didn’t have to pay a small fine that they would probably recover the losses on in the time it took them to cut the check.

      Impeding traffic is also up to the officer in most cases. Even without the loophole they probably would’ve just been slapped on the wrist.

  13. nathantreid

    The PD has stated that they received a warning, but how can they can have received a warning when according to 22400 (a) their reduced speed was allowed because it was “in compliance with law”, in this case the law that limits the speed of the vehicle to 25 mph?

    Unless the technicality is that the car was going 24 mph instead of 25 mph, I don’t see how they were in violation.

    1. Mountain View PD

      There were cars stacking up behind the Google car, which satisfies the “impeding” portion of the law. However, in this case with overlapping (and somewhat conflicting) laws, the officer exercised discretion and gave a warning.

      1. Bob Shanteau

        CVC 22400(a) clearly does not apply (drivers of vehicles not capable of going the speed of traffic are still allowed to use public streets and highways), so there is no conflict or confusion. The same principle applies to bicyclists using full lanes that are too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side. The officer simply made a mistake.

      2. Parvis Dall

        The “compliance with law” portion of 22400(a) has been commonly applied when soneone drives slow to avoid a hazard,other obstructions like pedestrians or bikes, or when yeilding the right of way to other vehicles. Also, the fact there were other lanes open for traffic to pass this vehcile is irrelevant, since this provision is not in 22400(a) and impeded traffic vehicles are not required to pass a slower vehilce. The slower vehicle is required to yeild, pull over and led the impeded traffic to pass per Cal. Veh. Code. Obviuously everyone is learning and will have to evolve with the new tech…even the law.

      3. Zesty Italian

        Wrong! There were two lanes to the left to pass this Google car. There was no violation and you’d have a hell of a time trying to argue that ANYTHING was stacking up behind it. The only ones “stacking up” behind it would drivers too stupid to drive and shouldn’t be on the road!

        You have not even mentioned anything about MAYBE and that’s a BIG MAYBE. That the Google car might have faced a violation of 21656, but this is an uphill battle too. This wasn’t a two-lane highway, nor was there 5 vehicles or more behind the Google car, but look. There is something in the law regarding slow moving cars on CA roads!!!!

        ref CA VC 21656
        On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of
        traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving
        vehicle, including a passenger vehicle, behind which five or more
        vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the
        nearest place designated as a turnout by signs erected by the
        authority having jurisdiction over the highway, or wherever
        sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the
        vehicles following it to proceed. As used in this section a
        slow-moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed
        less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and
        place.

  14. not matt kenseth

    if they want to drive 10mph under the speed limit, thats fine, but if they dont get out of my way it should be legal for me to get up behind em, get em lose and put em in the wall, matt kenseth style.

    just saying

  15. Wm Steele

    I still don’t understand why they were issued a warning. The NEV code clearly states that their vehicle was limited to 25mph, even on a 35mph limited road. The impeding code also clearly states exceptions where it is ok, including reduced speed for necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or to be IN COMPLIANCE WITH LAW.

    The Google car was driving at 24 mph to comply with both laws, the second one clearly spells out the fact that the car is allowed to drive slower to be in compliance with the NEV requirements (max speed of 25mph.)

    A warning normally indicates that they were in violation of one of these, but they clearly were not. There is no requirement stated that they must move over to let others to pass (as others have implied or stated) in either of those two laws, and therefore no warning was necessary. In fact, it should be the police officer who pulled them over that should take note that they were, in fact, pulled over due to an error.

    1. Mountain View PD

      Our officers have discretion when to cite and when to warn. In this case, the violation occurred when the car was impeding traffic (multiple cars stacking up behind it).

      1. Mike Goff

        It’s a road with three lanes in either direction, if the drivers behind the Google car are too stupid to just go around it, then they are a bunch of idiots that shouldn’t have a license. This sounds more like a disgruntled officer harassing the public

      2. David Butcher (@SolarDaveGreen)

        If there were open lanes next to it, then the car was not “impeding traffic.” I defy the officer to prove the other drivers were impeded. If the drivers CHOSE to stay behind the google car, how can that be the Google car’s “fault?” Or are you saying that any time I and four of my buddies decide to drive behind some poor schmuck you will give THAT PERSON the ticket?

      3. Skip

        That is totally false. You do not have discretion when to cite and when to warn if no law is being broken. Given the “unless in compliance with the law” provision in the statute, there is no overlapping or competing provisions. Your officer was clearly in the wrong, and you are just backpedaling here in an effort to justify the warning.

      4. Mountain View PD

        We’re sorry you feel that way Skip. The probable cause for the stop was valid under 22400(a) of the California vehicle code. If you’d like, we are more than happy to explain it further in person or if you’d like you can call our traffic unit at 650-903-6344.

      5. Zesty Italian

        How does “multiple cars stacking up behind it” when there were two passing lanes to the left? The drivers there are just too f**king stupid to change lanes?

    2. Keith Bradley (@tkbrdly)

      If you have more than 5 cars behind you and are driving slower than the speed limit, you are impeding traffic and required to pull over to give way, in California. The car wasn’t breaking any other laws because of the NEV code, but it was impeding traffic.

      1. Bob Shanteau

        You are referring to CVC 21656, which only applies on two-lane streets and highways (one lane in each direction). The Google car was on a six-lane street (three in each direction), so the 5 car behind rule doesn’t apply.


        CVC 21656. On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving vehicle, including a passenger vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout by signs erected by the authority having jurisdiction over the highway, or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed. As used in this section a slow-moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.

      2. Bob Shanteau

        CVC 21654 (5 cars behind) applies only on two-lane streets and highways. El Camino Real has six lanes, so the 5 cars behind rule does not apply.

      3. Joaquin Tagarao

        The Google car was not impeding traffic. With two other lanes available, the driver following it were just curious with the new technology i.e. the driverless Google car. There should not be any warning ticket issued!

  16. Dude in Michigan

    Since there were two other lanes available for those cars stacked behind the Google autonomous car, per two comments above (one of them the Mt. View police), then I submit that it wasn’t impeding traffic at all. A previous comment by the Mt. View police implies agreement as they didn’t know why those cars chose not to pass.

    All-in-all an interesting and thought-provoking event that was handled well by all, in my opinion.

  17. Scott (@ScooterComputer)

    I’m not from California, but from all the reports I’ve read about this, perhaps a clarification is in order. This blog post states the Google car was “traveling in the eastbound #3 lane on El Camino Real”; is the “#3 lane” the far left lane, or the first, right-most lane? I’d ASSUME it is the former, but you know about assumptions.
    Because understanding that would go a long way towards educating drivers. If the Google car was going 10mph below the posted limit in the far-left “passing” (or “overtaking” lane), a LOT of drivers arguing about this could quite possibly learn a valuable lesson in the process.

    I’m from Pennsylvania, and in PA the law states that drivers are ONLY supposed to be in a left-side lane in order to overtake traffic in the right lane(s) or to prepare for an imminent left-hand turn. PA law additionally allows that drivers overtaking slower traffic in the right lanes can do so exceeding the speed limit, however HOW FAST the driver does so is NOT specified, and is to be done within reason of safety; so basically, you can speed to pass, but you’d best pass quickly yet not too fast. Beyond that, the law is “slower traffic MUST STAY RIGHT.” The minimum speed limit is 15mph below the posted “limit”, and below that vehicles must use flashers or “slow moving vehicle” markers and yield to traffic from behind (pull off the road and stop) (the Impeding Traffic statue, as CA has). In PA it is also statutorily illegal to overtake traffic on the right, although when taken in conjunction with the impeding traffic statue, the stay right statute, and the speed limit statute, this makes for an interesting trip in front of the judge (you’ll still lose, you ALWAYS lose).

    So, assuming CA laws are somewhat similar to PA laws (with the exception of that awesome rolling stop thing, or is that a myth?), then it would appear that although the Google car was within the legal bounds of being permitted to operate on that stretch of roadway (it was an NEV/LEV on a 35mph or lower street) and within the legal speed for that stretch of highway (25mph in a 35mph zone), the fact that it was traveling in the far left lane for some unspecified distance and impeding other drivers was the reason for the stop. And that is COMPLETELY understandable and reasonable. Google should be explaining why they are not programming their cars to STAY RIGHT. [I have read the Google response, and they don’t mention their car was driving in the far left lane. I’d imagine, just from my experience in CA, that if a slower vehicle is not in that left lane WELL AHEAD of a turn, 97% of CA jerk drivers would NEVER let you over TO TURN, so it is something they have to do until/unless New Jersey jughandles come to California.]

    As to why the other drivers failed to overtake the Google car, perhaps the Mountain View Police could comment on how “passing on the right”, or at least the *perception* of most drivers of that, should not apply here.

    It would be MY take that as long as the “flow of traffic” was ~35mph in the righter lanes, you aren’t “passing”, you’re just “flowing” past a slower left lane. [However that was NOT how a judge in PA felt when I got the opportunity to speak with him about that very issue on a 55mph highway. Your state, and judges, may vary. This one was a dingbat, but in the end I “won”…because the trooper I “passed” (in a plain car) didn’t show up to court.]

    1. Bob Shanteau

      The CHP and local law enforcement in California count lanes from the left, opposite of some other states. The #3 lane was the rightmost lane. The CVC requires slower moving drivers to use the rightmost lane.

      The issue was whether the Google car was impeding traffic per CVC 21400(a), which specifies that a vehicle not able to go faster (such a truck on a grade) or one that must travel slower to comply with the law (such as a truck complying with the 55 mph statewide speed limit for trucks) is not in violation.

      Since the Google car is an NEV and NEVs are limited to 25 mph, clearly the Google car was not in violation of CVC 22400(a) and should not have been stopped. This is similar to the situation of a bicyclist using the full right-hand lane because the lane is too narrow for a vehicle and a bicycle to travel safely side by side, even though the bicyclist may be going slower than other traffic.

      1. Io

        Thanks for clarifying, Bob. I agree with you, Scott, about CA drivers not being so great at letting people into the left lane for turns… and other CA drivers have their head in the clouds/are too self centered to follow posted signs of “slow traffic keep right”.๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    2. rcl

      Lanes are numbered from left to right. This section of El Camino has 3 lanes in that direction, so lane 3 is the right most lane.

  18. JS Miller

    It would seem to me, a lot of Californians are tired of driving exactly the speed limit, so, faced with following a Google car at 24 mph, they made out all right, relieving their stress, enjoying a break from the frenzy of all those “type A’s”. Understood, three lanes were available, anyone could have made a break. There was no need to turn out. Google’s “pet project” may prove to be a help instead of a hindrance… that is, if the population decides to enjoy a lack of one- upsmanship. It’s called going with the flow, anyway, in this case, 24 mph, or ~30 kph, which BTW, remains the standard worldwide for traveling at a non-hellish rate.

  19. Joe Vernola

    Why is this George guy so aggravated? The car/Google didn’t get a ticket because the situation didn’t call for it, George. GET. OVER. IT. There were two other lanes. Flow of traffic was never TRULY impeded. It was the police officer’s discretion. He chose not to cite. Happens all the time, Georgie.

    1. plugh

      If the situation didn’t call for it, why waste police resources on it AT ALL? We have houses broken into with video of the perps. One in five people in the HOV lane are violating the law. Rolling stops through signs and red lights are rampant. And this cop pulls over a clearly-identified self-driving vehicle that’s obeying the law because he wants to gawk at it.

  20. Doug Penniman

    there is clearly a conflict between the laws and the California government needs to rectify the situation.

  21. falconfour

    I actually take this a bit of a different way. It brings light to the problem of the 25 MPH NEV speed limit. The laws about NEVs that Google has to contend with are ridiculous. They shouldn’t be limited to 25 MPH – that gives NEVs (particularly the “EVs” part) a bad name. Few people know that NEVs are limited to 25 MPH for legal reasons, and many assume, as they get into their routine gas-guzzlers, that EVs are just sluggish pieces of undesirable garbage. That limitation really should be changed to just allowing them to work with off-highway traffic. If you’re not on a highway rated 50 MPH or above, you should be able to drive one of these “special cars” at speed that doesn’t impede traffic.

    No street anywhere I know of – aside from residential side streets – wants to see a car holding up traffic at 25 MPH. Google really should be allowed to design a car that people might actually some day want to ride in. That law is both a conflict (as evidenced here) and a burden to innovation.

    1. patg

      Wasn’t it a residential street? If the maximum speed limit is 35 mph, how exactly is 25 mph “holding up traffic”? Would you expect the car to be going forever in the same direction as everyone else so people were virtually trapped behind it long enough to be a big problem?

      1. falconfour

        But in reality, El Camino tends to prefer to go 40. Like it or not.๐Ÿ˜‰

        My point is, the NEV regulations are ridiculous and should just allow the cars to go at the speed of traffic, except an obviously high-speed freeway. The nonsense about “safety” within the car (seat belts, crash texts, etc) is hardly applicable since they’re probably more likely to get run-over (or rear-ended) while being limited to 25 MPH…

  22. SlakeFistcrunch

    Several questions come to mind here:

    MVPD says they didn’t get a ticket, which presumably means that they WEREN’T actually impeding traffic? (I totally understand that if you’re going far enough under the speed limit, you can get ticketed; why you’ll see signs like “Use Flashers under 40” on 65mph highways.)

    The cop only realized it was a self driving car AFTER he approached the vehicle? Really? These cars look like they should have giant Weebles inside of them, but the cop must have missed the fact as the vehicle blew buy him at the blistering speed of 24mph? Or did the cop really have no idea that these cars were on the road? I mean, it’s a test market, and you guys have special laws for them, but the cop didn’t recognize it?

    So, my ACTUAL question at this point is: WHY were they pulled over? Because, we live in a society where we’re supposed to feel comfortable in the knowledge that we won’t be harassed by the police if we’re not doing anything illegal, or that’s creating suspicion of being illegal. I totally get that we can be questioned if it looks like we’re doing something fishy, and I will ALWAYS be 100% respectful of the men and women who risk their lives in our streets everyday.

    This, however, reeks of–at best–a waste of taxpayers time and money or–at worst–a PR stunt.

  23. AC Smith

    I’ve never been to the MVPD blog before (a link on Facebook brought me to this entry).
    May I just say, for the record, I have a bemused but sincere admiration and respect for whoever from your department is tasked with maintaining this page and, I am guessing, all of your social media presence.
    Your articulate, factual, delivery coupled with patience for your more obtuse commenters and a dry, deadpan, sense of humor are a breath of fresh air.
    Thank you.

    1. Mountain View PD

      Thank you. We try and we take great pride in being transparent and honest with our community. We respect the differing opinions that everyone has which is what makes our country so great.

    2. falconfour

      +1. It takes a certain special combination of great personality traits to be able to put up with all the flak a police department’s blog must go through. I’m impressed there are so many replies to comments here – they’re being read, even if just by one person๐Ÿ˜‰

      Kudos, also from a link from Facebook.

      1. Mountain View PD

        Thanks Falconfour. We opt for truth and transparency. We understand that many do not trust law enforcement, especially with incidents happening around the country. However, an open and honest dialogue is a start and we chose to do a lot of that in person, and of course through our many social media channels (a bit challenging when your post goes viral for sure)!

  24. HansW

    Please start enforcing the law as you should. I am sure I would have gotten a ticket. What makes this different? These “cars” are creating traffic hazards all over the place.

    1. Io

      I don’t think in all cases a super-slow car needs to get a ticket, but I’m definitely in favor of pulling them over more often! (Except the Google cars that are limited by law, which will hopefully be changed soon.) People driving slowly can be merely extra-cautious souls, but they make me nervous that they are high on weed. Need to pull them over and run DUI test if ANY slight suspicion. In any case, yes they are disrupting traffic patterns.

  25. David

    I was told by a police officer years ago that you can not drive slower than 10 miles under the posted speed limit, unless it is not safe to do so. i.e. rain, traffic, fog, darkness. Does that only apply on highways?

    1. patg

      The code being referenced above explicitly says “highway” so that’s clearly only for the highway. I’m not sure why the officer referenced that code for a residential street. At any rate, I’ve never heard any traffic code that says you can’t drive under 10 mph slower on any highway, either. I can remember seeing minimum speed limit signs on highways in my lifetime, but not anymore. As far as I know, there is no minimum speed limit unless you’re impeding traffic on the highway.

  26. Suzanne Emerson

    As the driver of a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, which also falls into the Vehicle Code category for Low-Speed Vehicles, I find it problematic that an officer would pull over a vehicle for “impeding” traffic, especially if there was a passing lane available to those behind the vehicle. “22400. (a) No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law.” The Google driverless vehicle and other Low-Speed Vehicles, which are speed-capped at 25 mph for safe operation, are operating in compliance with law when traveling at that speed. So unless there was only 1 lane in that direction and more than 5 cars were backed up behind it (veh. code 21656) there was no code violation for going that speed even if traffic was backed up behind it. Our roads should be a safe and accepting place for low-speed vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians, and our vehicle code accounts for this.

  27. MT

    Love it MVPD, if this had happened in NY, I’m pretty sure there would be an autonomous car sitting in jail right now.

  28. patg

    22400. (a) explicitly states “highway” and this did not happen on a highway, did it? It was a city street? It would seem that the code about impeding traffic on the highway wouldn’t even be applicable in this case so I’m not sure why it was referenced by the officer.

    1. Mountain View PD

      Thanks for your comment. 360 of the vehicle code defines
      “Highway” as a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street and in this case, includes El Camino Real.

      1. Marc Caruso

        Do you have laws against gawking you should have pulled over the drivers behind the car because the only reason they couldn’t pass was because they were busy gawking. If not you need to get an anti gawking law established immediately

  29. Lennart

    The thing I react on is the name “Regnstorff”. What an odd name in USA? That sounds strange to me (I am Swedish). I think that is a word more welcome in the german language. Regn in Swedish is rain in English and a lot of German Words ends with “ffs”, there are a lot of words starting with “sch” too. I have friends in Germany, are there often and speak some german. But I think I have never heard the Word storff? I would never get inside a car that drives its self. That is not safe. But that it is just my opion.

  30. Madeline Althoff

    I don’t know why no one has asked this question yet, but I would like to know why a vehicle that is only allowed to go 25 mph is allowed to drive on a 35-mph highway. It seems that it would always be impeding traffic. If it’s only allowed to go 25 mph, then it should only be on 25-mph roads. Otherwise, if it’s allowed on 35-mph roads, then it should be allowed to go 35 mph!

    1. SlakeFistcrunch

      No one’s asking that question because most people should understand what the word “limit” means. No one is under obligation to drive the speed limit, only to not be going so far under it as to be a impediment to traffic. For whatever their reasons, they must have decided that above 25mph is NOT an impediment.

  31. MtViewResident

    As a Mountain View resident, I understand the issue of driving down El Camino at 24 mph. That will tie up traffic most times of the day by impeding flow and will cause more dangerous driving conditions as drivers legally driving below 35 mph try to pass and return to the third lane (required for exiting to side streets and shops).

    I am questioning why these newer Google cars are allowed on our streets to drive only at 24 mph in 35 mph posted zones. California law for self-driving vehicles requires an AVT permit (Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program). There is no exception listed in California law that I could find that says that NEVs used autonomously do not need the AVT permit. In Section 4, sub-paragraph 8 of the AVT Permit, there is a requirement that the vehicle meet FMVSS. The previous Lexus vehicles obviously met this requirement (air bags, etc) but the new Google cars do not from my understanding – that is why they are trying to operate under NEV rules.

    My question to the Mountain View PD, is under what legal authority are the NEVs operating if they require AVT Permits but don’t meet the section 4.8 requirements of an AVT Permit?

  32. Zesty Italian

    “In this case, it was lawful for the car to be traveling on the street as El Camino Real is rated at 35 mph.”

    In this case, what law was broken? You sited 22400(a), but it states “No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic,……….” So how is this Google car impeding traffic when there’s clearly two other lanes on the left for someone to pass? I fail to see any violation and if I was in control of the Google car, I’d ask for my ticket and see you in court!

    Sounds to me like you have far bigger problems, how bout working on those? I’m betting you have cars averaging 50 mphs all day on that road, yes?

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