car | 511 Contra Costa

New Motor Vehicle Laws for 2017

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)

Take the 2015 Idle Free Pledge: 'Turn the Key' to Reduce Pollution


Take the Idle Free Pledge and help the environment by reducing air pollution! Taking the pledge means promising to ‘turn the key’ and shut off your vehicle when waiting for more than 30 seconds.
30 seconds of idling uses more fuel than stopping and starting your vehicle’s engine. Since idling also produces pollution that affects our environment and our health, following the 30-second Rule helps you breathe easier, keep the sky blue, reduce your carbon footprint and save money. If you’re waiting to pick someone up, sitting at a drive-through or car wash, or maybe even checking your phone in a stopped vehicle, please turn the key.
The Turn the Key – Be Idle Free campaign is a collaboration between the Spare the Air Resource Team, its partner organizations, and schools to educate parents and community members about vehicle idling.

Senior Drivers: Ways to Improve Your Driving Safety

As we get older, physical changes occur which can impact our safety behind the wheel. The good news is there are steps we can take to remain safer drivers even as we age. Thanks to the Pleasant Hill Commission on Aging, here are some helpful suggestions for senior drivers. If you’re not a senior driver but have a parent or friend who is, consider sharing these suggestions with them:

1. VISION – 90% of the information you use while driving is visual. This makes it important to:
•Adjust mirrors properly before you start to drive.
•Check your rearview mirror every 10-20 seconds.
•Turn and look over your shoulder when changing lanes.
•Avoid night driving.
2. MEMORY and ATTENTION – Eliminating distractions that take your eyes or mind off the road is useful at any age. To improve your focus and reduce distractions:
•Put your sunglasses where you can easily reach them.
•Know where you are going before you start.
•Turn the radio off and keep conversations to a minimum.
•Drive on familiar roads to reduce stress.
hikingpoles3. STRENGTH & ENDURANCE – Regular exercise helps lower the incidence of memory loss and physical disability:
•Continue the exercise habit; take regular walks.
•Contact the Senior Center, YMCA, or Recreation & Park District about exercise options.
•Get plenty of sleep and rest.
•Ask your health care provider about any health concerns before starting your routine.
4. STAY INFORMED ON HEALTH CONDITIONS & MEDICATION CHANGES
•Ask your doctor or pharmacist about side-effects or negative drug interactions that may affect your driving.
•Be sure you know how you react to a medication before getting behind the wheel.
5. CHECK OUT YOUR CAR – The safer your vehicle, the safer you are on the road. Plus, not having to worry about the reliability of your car reduces your stress while driving:
•Maintain the correct fluid levels and air pressure in the tires.
•Promptly repair any damage that could influence driving safety (e.g. cracked windshield, broken mirror, burned out light).
•Participate in a CarFit event (the next one is May 2 in Pleasant Hill).
 
Images courtesy National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institutes of Health

Carsharing Coming to Richmond and El Cerrito (2015)

CityCarShare_Logo_cmykThanks to a nearly $1 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), carsharing is about to become a reality in both Richmond and El Cerrito.
The MTC has awarded a $973,864 grant to fund a program called CarShare4All, a collaboration between City CarShare, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and the Bay Area Climate Collaborative (BACC). The program will deploy vehicles to El Cerrito, Richmond and Oakland, including a wheelchair-accessible van.
“Carsharing is a very important part of our strategy to provide transportation options,” said Kevin Romick, Chair of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, “This project with City CarShare and the Bay Area Climate Collaborative provides critical links to and from public transit, which provides multi-modal travel choices for Contra Costa residents.”
According to a project factsheet released by Richmond Mayor-elect Tom Butt, beyond bringing carsharing to El Cerrito and Richmond, the CarShare4All program will allow City CarShare to expand access to discounted memberships for low- and moderate-income families and increase the availability of wheelchair-accessible vans to its members.
A date for initial service has not yet been released.
For more information about the program, read the CarShare4All fact sheet (posted by Richmond Mayor-elect Tom Butt) or City CarShare’s press release.
For more information on carsharing in Contra Costa County, visit 511CC’s carsharing page.

More Car-Sharing in Contra Costa County (2013)

Peer-to-peer car sharing is a relatively new way to help people get around but the concept is rapidly growing in Contra Costa County. If you haven’t checked out car sharing opportunities in your area recently, it may be worthwhile to revisit websites of popular options listed on 511CC’s car sharing page.
See below maps of available peer-to-peer car share opportunities in the East Bay from Ride Relay and Getaround, two peer-to-peer car sharing options that have substantially grown:
relayride
Ride Relay car sharing opportunities. Image via: Ride Relay
getaround
Car sharing options from Getaround. Image via: Getaround
For more information about car sharing, check out “car sharing” tagged posts and for a full list of car sharing options in the Bay Area, head to our  car sharing page.

Are You HOV Eligible? (2013)

CADMV
(If in doubt, check the DMV website.)
With so many fuel efficient motor vehicles on the market these days it’s difficult to keep track of which has what special technology to help you save gas. However with notorious Bay Area traffic, perhaps more important to keep track of here– which ones qualify for use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes by single occupant vehicles ?
California law allows single-occupant use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOVs) lanes by certain qualifying clean alternative fuel vehicles however  they require a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Unfortunately the yellow stickers commuters may have first grown accustomed to a few years are no longer valid– that program ended on 7/1/2011 and vehicles that qualified for the yellow stickers do not qualify for any other type of decals. The two types of stickers that are currently being distributed are (Via CA–DMV):

White Clean Air Vehicle Stickers are available to an unlimited number of qualifying Federal Inherently Low Emission Vehicles (ILEVs). Cars that meet these requirements are typically certified pure zero emission vehicles (100% battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. The expiration date for the white stickers has been extended to January 1, 2015.
Green Clean Air Vehicle Stickers are available to the first 40,000 applicants that purchase or lease cars meeting California’s Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT PZEV) requirement.

To see a full list of which cars are eligible for HOV lane use, head over to the CA-DMV.

(Note: The CA-DMV notes the 2012 and 2013 Chevy Volt are eligible for HOV lane use  sticker if purchased with Low Emission Package– in California the Chevy Volt comes standard with the Low Emission Package so no additional purchase is needed to qualify for the sticker.)

Holiday Costumes for Your Car

Have you ever driven down the highway during the holiday season and seen one of your fellow drivers sporting a reindeer costume on their car? Or maybe an elf? Spread holiday cheer with one of these Christmas-themed costumes–even the rainy weather and horrible holiday traffic can’t dampen the spirits of these drivers!


Because cars want to dress up too.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com