Road laws are intended to serve as public safety measures. As vehicle technology evolves, drivers have more conveniences at their fingertips than ever before resulting in increased driver distractions. The new California driving laws passed on January 1, 2016 include measures to curtail these distractions. The Golden State legislature enacted several new motor vehicle laws which came into effect on January 1st. Even though we are well into 2016, chances are most Californians don’t know about the changes. So, whether you’re driving a car, truck, van, motorcycle, or, even on a bicycle or skateboard, there are new road rules for all to follow.
Have any New Truck or Motor Vehicle Laws been Put into Place?
The new rules are important, and while they may not directly affect you, they are nevertheless significant. In the post-recession economy, the number of road deaths has increased by 10 percent nationally in the first quarter of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unfortunately, that statistic is grimmer in the Golden State, recording an uptick of 13 percent from 2010 through 2013, according to state officials, cited in a news report by the Sacramento Bee. At the time, state officials estimated the percentage would continue to rise. In the first half of 2015 alone, fatal crashes increased 20 percent statewide, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Therefore, to keep motorists and others on the road safe, California has enacted the following new road laws:
- AB 8: Hit and run. Law enforcement agencies can now issue “Yellow Alerts,” broadcasting these through a variety of mediums, including digital signs, television, radio, and more for hit-and-run incidents injuries or fatalities occur. Yellow alerts will be issued in cases where information about the suspect’s vehicle is known, such as a partial license plate, or, vehicle description.
- SB 61: Driving under the influence. In four counties: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare, a one-year extension has been approved for a pilot program for individuals who have been convicted of driving under the influence. Drivers convicted of the crime must install an Ignition Interlock Device on their vehicles. These devices prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the offender’s breath.
- SB 491: Earbud use. As mentioned above, with new technology comes new distractions and now, it’s against the law in California to wear over the ear or in-ear devices while operating a car or bicycle. This is to allow motorists and bicyclists to hear emergency vehicle sirens.
- AB 208: Highway lane use. This extends an existing law requiring slow-moving motor vehicles to safely pull-over to allow traffic to pass to bicyclists. The law states, like motorists, bicyclists are required to use the next available turnout to allow congested traffic consisting of five or more vehicles to pass.
- AB 1096: Electric bicycles. Now, electric bicycles with less than 750 watts of power, equipped with pedals and a motor, are placed into one of three classifications. Bicyclists are prohibited from modifying speed capabilities without also changing the classification labels.
- AB 604: Electric skateboards. Only operators 16 years and older are allowed and must wear a helmet. Maximum speed is 15 mph, while on roads, trails, sidewalks, or paths with a posted speed limit of 35 mph.
There are at least two more new transportation laws we know of which are scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2017. They are: SB 491, reporting crashes and AB 53, child safety seats. SB 491 will require anyone involved in an automobile collision that causes $1,000 or more in property damage must complete and submit form SR-1 to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. AB 53 will require child passengers under the age of 2 to be constrained in a rear-facing safety seat, or if under 40 pounds or under 40 inches in height. Interestingly, January 1, 2016 also brought new voter law.
The California New Motor Voter Act [went] into effect January 1 which adds millions of voters to the state’s voter registry. Eligible voters who apply for driver licenses, identification cards or submit for a change of address will be automatically registered to vote. California is the second state in the nation to enact a law like this. Oregon was the first. —NBC San Diego
Overall, measures are being put in place or modified to keep motorists safer on California roads and to prevent motor vehicle accidents.