Q: While driving home yesterday, I observed a minimum of 30 cars driving without a front license plate. What is the California law concerning the front plate?

-- Barbara Jackson

Those front license plates are absolutely required, both the local California Highway Patrol office and the Bakersfield Police Department confirmed.

BPD spokeswoman Michaela Beard said that in 2012, the department issued at least 301 citations for violating the law. She said "at least" because that's the number issued through the department's electronic ticketing system. The department also issues tickets through a paper system and those are more difficult to tally up quickly, Beard said.

Q: I realize carpool lanes don't affect us here in Kern County on a daily basis. I travel up and down the state weekly, I am curious as to why the carpool lanes in Southern California are restricted 24 hours a day to two or more passengers while the Northern California carpool lanes are only restricted to two or more passengers during peak commute hours, for example 5--9 a.m. and 3--7 p.m.

It seems to me that opening those lanes to all vehicles during non-peak hours makes sense and alleviates congestion. One other observation is that in Southern California, there is a double yellow line between regular traffic lanes and carpool lanes with specific places to enter and exit. At times this makes it difficult to make an upcoming exit.

In Northern California there are no double yellow lines with limited entries and exits, one can enter or exit the carpool lane at will. Again, the Northern California method seems much more logical.

-- Chris Strong

A: Jose Camarena, a spokesman for the Caltrans Division 6, based in Fresno, explained how the carpool rules work:

The hours of operations and striping/access patterns will vary from district to district (there are 12 districts statewide) and are based on traffic volumes and patterns associated with each location and regions where each highway is located as well as based on respective levels of congestion throughout the day.

Our traffic engineers monitor traffic levels and volumes in each of their respective districts in order to determine the best striping and occupation/availability periods that will reduce impacts to congestion and increase levels safety.

Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to asktbc@bakersfield.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.