With 2021 now upon us, you should be aware of these three new laws affecting motorists:
Unattended children in motor vehicles: Exempts a person from civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child who is 6 years old or younger in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances. [Effective Jan. 1, 2021]
“Move Over, Slow Down” amendments: The “Move Over, Slow Down” law has been expanded to apply to local streets and roads. Drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights, including tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, must move to another lane when possible, or slow to a reasonable speed on all highways, not just freeways. [Effective Jan. 1, 2021]
Points for distracted driving: Beginning July 1, violating the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense will result in a point being added to a driving record.
For more information on new driving-related laws taking effect in 2021, click below.
A number of transportation-related laws take effect on January 1, 2020. Below, we’ve highlighted those affecting most road users. To read the full text of any law, click the link to the right of the headline.
Bicyclists May Travel Straight Through Turn Lanes (AB 1266): Cyclists will be allowed to proceed straight through turn lanes (both right and left) at intersections, as long as the traffic light signal indicates that vehicles may travel straight through the intersection.
Motorized Scooters Will No Longer Require a Motorcycle License to Operate (AB 1810): In 2019, you could use an electric scooter if you had either a driver’s license or learner’s permit. However, operating other types of motorized scooters required a motorcycle (class M1 or M2) license. In 2020, no specialized license will be required for motorized scooters – a driver’s license or learner’s permit will suffice. Note: Motorized scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks, and a helmet is required when using one.
Extension of Program Allowing Low-Emission Vehicles to Use HOV Lanes (AB 544) An existing program allowing low-emission and transitional zero-emission vehicles access to HOV lanes, regardless of vehicle occupancy, has been extended. In 2020, the DMV will issue orange decals to qualifying vehicles. They will be valid until January 1, 2024.
Illegal for Vehicle Passengers to Consume Marijuana (AB 1810): The exemption allowing passengers to consume marijuana while in a bus, limousine, taxi, pedicab, housecar or camper expires at the end of 2019. The exemption allowing passengers in these types of vehicles to drink alcohol will remain in effect.
For more laws taking effect in 2020 that affect motorists, visit the DMV website.
NOTE: Starting Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require U.S. residents to have a federally approved document, like a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, to board domestic flights. The DMV encourages Californians to apply for their REAL ID when they renew their driver’s license or at their earliest convenience. For more information, check out the FAQ for getting a REAL ID.
2018 is here, and with it some new laws for transit and vanpool commuter benefits, walking and driving. Pre-Tax Commuter Benefit: If your employer offers a program where you can pay for transit or vanpool commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars, the monthly cap for that benefit has risen to $260 for 2018. The pre-tax cap for biking expenses remains at $20. Pedestrian Crossing Signals (AB 390): For crosswalk signals which include a countdown timer, it is now legal for a pedestrian to enter the crosswalk after the countdown has started, as long as they can make it across by the time the counter reaches zero. It is still illegal to begin crossing at a traditional pedestrian signal (i.e. no countdown timer) after it has begun flashing. Seat Belts on Buses (SB 20):Effective July 1, 2018 – In buses which are equipped with seatbelts, the law requires both the passengers and the driver to wear them. The driver is also responsible for informing passengers of this requirement. Driving Passengers for Hire (AB 2687, 2016):Effective July 1, 2018 – Now lowered to match the current limit for bus and truck drivers, the blood-alcohol limit for individuals driving for Uber, Lyft and similar services has been lowered to 0.04 percent when carrying passengers. New Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees(SB 1): A new ‘transportation improvement fee’ will be added to all vehicle registration fees – ranging from $25 to $175 based on the value of a car or truck. No Parking Citations at Broken Meters (AB 1625): You cannot be restricted from or ticketed for parking at a broken meter. However, you must still observe the posted time limit for parking. Alcohol and Marijuana in Vehicles (SB 65, 94): Smoking or ingesting cannabis while driving or riding in a vehicle is prohibited. The law also prohibits the possession of an open container of cannabis or cannabis product when operating a motor vehicle.
To see the full text of any California law above, visit the California Legislative Information website.
California’s electric utilities, including PG&E, have proposed several programs to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the meeting, CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman and staff will briefly outline the utilities’ proposals, then ask community members about their concerns and expectations.
Light refreshments will be served and Spanish interpretation services will be provided. If you’d like to arrive by transit, Richmond BART station is 7-blocks away or you can take AC Transit Line 72M.
For more information about the meeting, view the event flyer.
Transportation Electrification Public Meeting
Wednesday, September 13 at 6pm
Council Chambers, Richmond City Hall (440 Civic Center Plaza)
Caltrans has set a target to triple bicycling by 2020, but in order to make that happen, they need your help!
The Caltrans District 4 Bicycle Plan, which is currently being created, will guide California’s decision makers in developing bicycle projects and programs. With over 2200 miles of road under their management, Caltrans is relying on local feedback to let them know what residents feel is and isn’t working and what improvements they’d like to see.
Completing the Bike Plan survey will assist Caltrans with their mission to build bicycle facilities that are safe, comfortable and convenient. These expanded and upgraded facilities will:
Improve public health and promote active lifestyles
Create connections that allow people to bike to work, school, or transit, and
Reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions
Caltrans want to hear from as many residents as possible, so please take the survey and help spread the word! For more information on the District 4 Bicycle Plan, visit the project website.
With 2017 just around the corner, we rounded up new laws impacting vehicle & traffic safety we thought you should know about. All of these laws take effect on January 1, 2017. Cell Phone (Electronic Wireless Device) Usage: It will be illegal to hold a cell phone (or other wireless electronic device) while operating a motor vehicle. Phones and devices will need to be mounted on the dashboard or windshield, and may only be operated by hand when activating or deactivating a feature or function can be done with “a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger” (View full text of AB 1785) School Bus Safety: All school buses, school pupil activity buses, youth buses & child care motor vehicles used to transport school-age children will be required to have a “child safety alert system”. Since this device requires the driver to contact or scan it before leaving the vehicle, it prompts them to verify that all children have disembarked. Schools will also be required to have procedures in place to, “ensure that a pupil is not left unattended on a school bus.” (View full text of SB 1072) Child Safety Seats: Children under 2 years of age must ride rear-facing in a child safety seat, unless they are more than 40 pounds or taller than 40 inches. (View full text of AB 53)
Caltrans is starting work on its 2018 Rail Plan, which will provide a framework for California’s rail network for the next 20 years. The planning process is designed to allow early stakeholder and public input – providing information through meetings and webinars and soliciting feedback via workshops, surveys, emails and online comments.
If you’d like to help shape the Rail plan, you can sign up to the email list, leave a comment on the Comments Page, or send an email to RailPlan@dot.ca.gov. For more ways to participate, visit Caltrans’ Get Involved page.
If you’d like additional information, visit the 2018 California Rail Plan website.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has announced that Green Clean Air Vehicle decals – which allow single-occupant plug-in hybrids to use the HOV lane – are no longer being issued. In late 2015, the DMV hit their limit of 85,000 stickers. Although the limit has been raised in the past, there is no guarantee that additional decals will be authorized in the coming months. The DMV will continue to accept applications without payment for people who want to go on a waitlist should additional decals be authorized.
White Clean Air Vehicle decals (for natural gas or 100% electric vehicles) are still available and an unlimited number can be issued. Both the Green and White decals are valid until 2019.
For more information, visit the California DMV’s decal information page or call 800-242-4450.
With a new year come new laws to be aware of pertaining to the vehicle code. With some help from the California Highway Patrol, here’s a quick digest of new laws in effect for 2016: Use of Earbuds and Headsets (SB 491): This law clarifies that it is illegal to have earbuds in or headphones on both ears while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle. Slow-moving Bikes & Cars Must Allow Passing (AB 208): The law requiring slow-moving passenger vehicles to pull over safely to let traffic pass has been amended to apply to all vehicles, including bicycles. Slow-moving vehicles are required to use the next available turnout or other area to let backed-up traffic (i.e. five or more vehicles) get by. New Hit-and-Run Yellow Alert System (AB 8): A “Yellow Alert” notification system will be established for hit-and-run incidents resulting in death or serious injury. This will allow the rapid dissemination of information regarding the suspect and their vehicle, including the use of the freeway Changeable Message Signs (CMS). Electronically Motorized Boards Restricted to Roads & Bikeways (AB 604): The new law defines an “electronically motorized board” as a wheeled device designed to be stood on and powered by electronic propulsion, going no more than 15 miles per hour. Electronically motorized boards can only be ridden on a highway with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, or specific designated bikeways. The rider must be at least 16 years old and wear a bicycle helmet. (Cities and counties are authorized to restrict the use of electrically motorized boards.) Silver Alerts to Use Changeable Message Signs (AB 643): The “Silver Alert” notification system has been enhanced to allow alerts to be communicated on CMS when a vehicle is involved. The Silver Alert is an emergency system that allows law enforcement to broadcast alerts for seniors, or individuals with developmental disabilities or who are cognitively impaired, who are missing and may be in danger.
For complete information on bills enacted in 2015, please visit the Legislative Counsel Web site.
If you live in or near Danville, help your teen be a safer driver by bringing them to the CHP’s Start Smart program on November 4! This two-hour driver safety class at Monte Vista High School is for new and future licensed teenage drivers and their parents. All are invited to attend! Presented by the California Highway Patrol, Street Smarts Diablo and Monte Vista High School. The event is free but registration is requested. Click here to register.
The class will be held at Monte Vista High School Theater (at 3131 Stone Valley Rd) in Danville from 7-9pm. For more information, call Street Smarts Diablo at 925-969-1083.
The California Highway Patrol knows that driving is freedom. Helping seniors preserve that freedom is the focus of their Age Well Drive Smart program. On October 27, CHP – Contra Costa invites you to take their freeAge Well Drive Smart class in Lafayette. This two-hour interactive program is designed to help Contra Costa County’s senior drivers refresh their knowledge of the “rules of the road” and learn about age-related physical changes and how to adjust to them.
Included in the discussion will be the importance of preserving the ability to drive, factors to consider in extending our driving years, and health issues which might require us to limit or stop driving.
The event happens at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (1035 Carol Lane) in Lafayette on October 27, from 9:30am to 11:30am.
To register, visit the Eventbrite page.
Bring your teen to one of the CHP’s Start Smart classes! Spending just two hours with them can make them a safer driver. This program is for new and future licensed teenage drivers and their parents. All are invited to attend!
There are three classes happening soon:
Presented by the California Highway Patrol, Streets Smarts Diablo and Street Smarts San Ramon Valley the events are free but registration is requested. Click any of the class listings above to register or get details.
If you can’t attend any of the listed events, the CHP offers the Start Smart class twice a month at their Martinez offices. For more information, call 925-646-4980.
The California Highway Patrol, Golden Gate Division is reminding motorists to keep their attention focused on the road as the weather warms. Over the final – and warmest – weekend in March, five people lost their lives in fatal traffic accidents which could have been avoided.
“Safety on our Bay Area roadways is everyone’s responsibility,” said Chief Avery Browne. “We’re calling upon all motorists to watch their speed, to drive safely, and to avoid distractions behind the wheel.”
The warmer weather in April and May will mean more vehicles on the road, increasing the need for drivers to be aware of the presence and behavior of other road users. The CHP is asking for your help to make April free of fatalities on Bay Area roadways!
The California Department of Transportation and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority are constructing two new connector ramps, one connecting westbound State Route 4 (SR-4) to northbound SR-160, and one connecting southbound State Route 160 (SR-160) to eastbound SR-4 in Contra Costa County.
Part of this construction work entails adjustment of temporary bridge supports that span over SR-4. In order to ensure crew and public safety during this work, the contractor will close all lanes of SR-4 in the eastbound and westbound directions between the SR-4/SR-160 connector ramp and Laurel Road.
These closures are scheduled to take place on the evenings of February 25, 26, and 27th from 11:59pm to 5:00 am. The detour for this work will be as follows:
Eastbound motorist will be directed off the highway at the SR-160 off-ramp and redirected to return to eastbound SR-4 via the Laurel Road on-ramp.
Westbound motorist will be directed off the highway at Laurel Road on-ramp and redirected to westbound SR-4 via the entrance of southbound SR-160.
Motorists are advised to expect delays and allow extra time for their commute. Please drive with caution through the detours and leave safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.
With a new year come new laws pertaining to the vehicle code. Here’s a quick digest of the new laws: Modified Limousine Safety Requirements – Regulations (SB 611): The new law defines a modified limousine as a vehicle that seats not more than 10 passengers, including the driver, and has been modified, altered, or extended in a manner that increases the wheelbase of the vehicle, sufficient to accommodate additional passengers. Modified limousines are required to carry two readily accessible and fully-charged fire extinguishers. The driver must notify passengers of the safety features of the vehicle, including instructions for lowering the partition between the driver and passengers, and the location of the fire extinguishers. Driver License Eligibility – Undocumented Residents (AB 60): The ability to submit proof of legal residence in the United States is no longer a requirement to obtain a California Driver’s License. Applicants are still required to provide satisfactory proof of identity and California residency and must meet all other qualifications for licensure, which includes demonstration of the basic knowledge, skills and ability to have the privilege of driving.
For complete information on bills enacted in 2014, please visit the Legislative
Counsel Web site at LegInfo.ca.gov.
With California’s Three Feet for Safety law now in effect, we thought we’d present an overview of California laws designed to help drivers and cyclists share the road safely Motorists & Cyclists
Rights and Responsibilities: Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Both have the right to use the roadway; both are responsible for signaling turns and stops, as well as stopping at all red lights and stop signs. (CVC 21200, CVC 22107, CVC 22111)
Yielding to pedestrians: Drivers and cyclists must yield to pedestrians, whether they are crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Crosswalks must be left free and clear for pedestrians. (CVC 21954 (b), CVC 21950, CVC 21455)
Blocking a Bike Lane: Neither motorists nor cyclists may stop in a bike lane or on a bike path. (CVC 21211, CVC 22512)
Turning Out of Slow Moving Vehicles: On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving vehicle (including bicycles and passenger vehicles) behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed. (CVC 21656)
Turning Across a Bike Lane: When making a right turn that involves crossing a bike lane, the driver must merge into the bike lane and turn from the curb. State law requires that all right-hand turns be made from “as far right as practicable.” (CVC 21717, CVC 22100)
Opening and Closing Doors: Before opening doors, drivers must look for oncoming traffic and may not open the door unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of traffic. The door must not be left open longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. (CVC 22517)
Travel Lanes: Cyclists moving at less than the speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as is safe & practicable. Cyclists have the right to take the lane when passing, preparing for a left turn, if the lane is too narrow to share, or if they are approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. (CVC 21202)
Bicycle Lanes: On a roadway with a bike lane, bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use the bike lane, with the same exceptions as noted above. (CVC 21208)
Moving Left to Avoid Hazards & Pass: Cyclists are allowed to move left to avoid hazards like fixed or moving objects, hazardous surface conditions, animals, glass, etc. This includes moving left when passing a vehicle (esp. a turning vehicle turning right) or another bicycle traveling in the same direction. (CVC 21202 (a))
Riding on Sidewalks: Individual cities and counties control whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. Check local regulations. (CVC 21206)
Bicycle Operation & Required Equipment
Helmets: Cyclists and bicycle passengers under age 18 must wear a helmet when riding on a bicycle. (CVC 21212)
Head phones: Bicyclists may not wear earplugs in both ears or a headset covering both ears. (CVC 27400)
Use Lights at Night: A white headlight and reflectors are required by law if riding when it’s dark. (CVC 21201)
Ride with a Brake: A bike must be equipped with a brake that enables the rider “to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.” (CVC 21201)
In March, Caltrans released the results from its latest California Household Travel Survey (CHTS), which looks at how we in California travel. The primary finding echoes what many suspect– Californians are driving less. The percentage of California residents walking, biking, or using public transportation more than doubled since 2000; the three modes increased in mode-share, collectively, from 11 percent to 23 percent.
Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty notes of the survey’s findings, “Based on this research, we can make good decisions about transportation that will improve mobility, air quality, and travel choices for all Californians and make our state a better place to live and work.”
The table below from the recent CHTS shows the exact breakdown of travel mode distribution, and how it compares to the 2000 survey:
Single-occupancy cars remain the most prevalent travel mode. However it now makes up less than half of all trips, having plummeted from 60.2% to 49.3% of trips.
Interestingly, despite frequently hearing about today’s public transit and bicycling booms, the fastest growing travel mode in the Golden State over the last decade was walking, which more than doubled from 8.4% of trips to 16.6% trips. This is not to say that reports of increased levels of public transit use and bicycling are misleading, in fact the two modes doubled their respective mode-share since Caltrans’ 2000 CHTS.
The results from the survey mark a dramatic shift in the state’s travel patterns and show no signs of reversing. Looking at the numbers one can’t help but to wonder– what will the next California Household Travel Survey look like?
Happy New Year from 511CC!
The California legislature has released a new set of traffic laws in effect for 2014, to be enforced by the CHP and other agencies.
Here are some of the new laws effective January 1, 2014.
Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the changes:
AMBER Alert: Expansion (AB 535): This law requires law enforcement to request activation of the AMBER Alerts after receiving a report that a child has been taken abducted by anyone, including a custodial parent or guardian, who may cause serious bodily injury or death to the child.
Bicycles: Passing Distance (AB 1371): (This law will go into effect September 16, 2014.)This law prohibits motorists from passing a bicycle with less than three feet between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bicycle ordriver. When three feet is not possible, the motor vehicle must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and only pass when no danger is present tothe bicyclist. Failing to do so can incur a fine, regardless of a collision or not.
Charter Bus Carriers: Limousines: Emergency Exits (SB 109): By January 1st, 2016, every limousine that has been modified or extended toaccommodate additional passengers shall have two rear doors and one or two internally removable rear emergency windows. If such modifications occurred on or after July of 2015, these requirements apply immediately after July 1st, 2015. All new limousines manufactured after January 1st, 2015 must meet these requirements as well.
High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes (AB 266 / SB 286, Yee): Together these laws extend sunset dates for low emission, zero emission vehicles tooperate in high occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV) without meeting occupancy requirements to January 1, 2019.
Hit and Run: Statute of Limitations (AB 184): This law extends the statute of limitations for hit-and-run collisions in which death or permanent, serious injury was a result. A criminal complaint may be filed within three years of the offense, or one year after the person was initially identified by law enforcement as a suspect in the commission of the offense, which ever comes later, but in no case more than six years after the offense.
Registration Fees: Vehicle Theft (AB 767): This law authorizes counties to increase registration fees by $1 for passenger vehicles and $2 forcommercial vehicles to fund programs related to vehicle theft crimes in those counties
Search Warrants: Chemical Tests (SB 717): (This law has been operative since September 20, 2013.) This amendment to current law authorizes the issuance of a search warrant to draw blood from a person in a reasonable, medically approved manner, to show that the person violated misdemeanor DUI provisions when that person has refused an officer’s request to submit to, or has failed to complete, a blood test.
Teen Drivers (SB 194): This law prohibits a person who is under 18 years of age from using an electronic wireless communications device to write,send, or read a text-based communication while driving, even if it is equipped with a hands-free device.
To read the full text of each bill, visit the official California Legislative site, click the Bill Information tab. Enter the bill number listed in parentheses next to each new law above (e.g. 1854) next to “Bill Number:” and select 2013-2014 next to “Session Year:”, then click Search.
Previous Lists Summarizing New California Traffic Laws by Year:
A glimpse of xkcd’s map of all subways in North America– click the above image to see the full map. Image credit: xkcd
Here’s one for the rail and public transit enthusiasts– xkcd recently shared a cool map displaying all subways in North America, connected. For the die-hard rail enthusiasts, xkcd does offer this disclaimer:
The definition of a subway used here is, with some caveats, “a network containing high capacity grade-separated passenger rail transit lines which run frequently, serve an urban core, and are underground or elevated for at least part of their downtown route.” For the rest of you, the definition is “an underground train in a city.”
It’s a fascinating map nonetheless, regardless of your definition of “subway,” check it out! (Previously here at 511 Contra Costa we’ve also shared a similar map for bicycles that ties together bike routes across the nation into a network, known as “United Bike Lanes of America.” For more interesting transit maps, check out our posts tagged “maps.”)