With each new year comes a flurry of new legislation designed to keep motorists safe and preventable injuries at bay. California driving laws are becoming more stringent, and citizens must be vigilant. If you don’t want to pay any of your hard-earned cash on tickets this year, here’s what you need to know.
Phone Use While Driving
California has long had a texting ban and is one of only a few states that ban cell phone use outright while driving. Legislators have now passed a rule to address one of the loopholes in the law – and you might not like it.
Previously, citizens could fight a ticket in court by saying they were using their mobile device to navigate with GPS. Now, officials say you can’t be holding your phone in your hand for any reason. This includes using apps and even switching music on your playlist via Bluetooth. Assemblyman Bill Quirk, who drafted the law, said it serves one purpose: getting the phone out of your hand and your eyes on the road.
A study by the California Office of Traffic Safety found that in 2016, 1 in 8 drivers paid as much attention to their smartphone as they did to the road. They also estimate that distracted driving plays a role in approximately 80% of crashes. This prompted Quirk as well as other legislative and enforcement officials to take action.
Loopholes in the previous law technically allowed motorists to scan Facebook, Snapchat, and other popular apps while driving as well as using GPS to navigate.
If you can’t get through your commute without listening to Spotify or using your navigation system to avoid traffic, never fear: the new law stipulates that motorists can mount their phones to listen to music or use GPS. The mount must be located in one of three places: the dashboard, the lower right corner of the windshield, or the lower left corner. Drivers may use only one finger to tap or swipe the screen. Lawmakers hope the new law will minimize distracted driving accidents throughout the state and help keep people safe.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting
California lawmakers have finally come to a consensus about the practice of lane splitting (riding a motorcycle down the white stripe between lanes of slow-moving traffic). The practice has been in limbo for years – it wasn’t technically illegal, but it also wasn’t defined as legal. The new measure stipulates certain measures for lane splitting to make it safer. California Highway Patrol is working with local motorcycle organizations to determine what is and what isn’t proper practice for riding in between cars.
For example, if traffic is at a standstill, having a lane-splitting motorcycle travelling at 60 miles per hour is dangerous for both the cyclist and other motorists. Lawmakers expect the law to evolve as they continue talks with motorcycle experts throughout the state.
Preventing Bus Tragedies
Lastly, California lawmakers have passed new regulations regarding inspections of tour and charter buses. The measures come in response to a rash of fatal bus crashes that have plagued the state in recent years. School bus operators will also have to carry out additional procedures to ensure children are never left behind on vacant vehicles.
Improving Child Safety
2017 also brings a revision to child safety seat laws. Effective immediately, children will be required to remain rear-facing in their car seats until their second birthday. Exceptions to the law include children who are over 40 lbs. or over 40 inches tall. Virtually every driver on the road will be affected by the new regulations in some way. Mount your phones and flip your car seats, and pay attention to evolving motorcycle regulations to avoid tickets from the CHP this year.