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New Laws for 2018

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.

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)

Start Smart: Free Teen Driving Safety Program – Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 (Concord)

Did you know that your bicycle is considered a vehicle and that the same laws that apply to motorists apply to cyclists? Come learn more about keeping your teens safe on the road with a 2-hour Start Smart driving and bicycling safety class September 29 in Concord.  Accompanying your student to the class is a great way to show them just how much their safety means to you.
screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-4-36-35-pmStart Smart, led by the California Highway Patrol, is designed to educate teens and their parents on common high-risk behaviors of new motorists & how to prevent distracted driving. The event will not only help new drivers stay safe behind the wheel, it will also explain the Rules of the Road regarding cyclists and present strategies to help your teen keep vulnerable road users, like pedestrians and cyclists, safe as well.
The class is open to all high school students and will be held at Ygnacio Valley High School from 6:30-8:30pm on Thursday, September 29. Each student must be accompanied by at least one parent or guardian. The event is free, but registration is requested via the Eventbrite event page.
This evening is presented by Street Smarts Diablo,  the California Highway Patrol, and Ygnacio Valley High School. For additional information, click here.

Free Teen Driving Safety Program: November 4, 2015 (Danville)

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.

Stay Alert & Drive Safely: Warmer Weather Means More Vehicles on Roads

California Highway Patrol patchThe 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!

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.
•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

CarFit Event for Pleasant Hill Seniors – Saturday, May 2, 2015

Older drivers are often the safest drivers, since they are more likely to wear their seatbelts and less likely to speed or drink and drive. However, older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously hurt when a crash does occur due to their greater susceptibility to injury.
CarFit is an educational program offering older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them. A trained team, including occupational therapy practitioners, will assist older drivers in assuring they leave with:
 • A clear line of sight over the steering wheel 
 • Adequate space between the front airbag/steering wheel and the driver’s breastbone
 • Properly adjusted head restraints and proper positioning on the gas & brake pedals 
 • Proper seat belt fit and instruction on proper use
 • Safe positioning of mirrors to minimize blind spots

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.49.27 PMThe Pleasant Hill Commission on Aging will host a CarFit event for Pleasant Hill Seniors on Saturday, May 2, from 10am-1:00pm, consisting of a series of personal appointments. The 20-minute appointment not only provides an opportunity to open a positive conversation about driver-to-vehicle fit, but it also provides specific community resources to help older drivers stay healthy and continue to drive for as long as safely possible.

To register for an appointment, please call Danielle Habr from the City of Pleasant Hill at (925) 671-5221 by April 29. Appointments will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information about this program, please visit

Pleasant Hill CarFit Event
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
555 Boyd Road
Saturday, May 2, 10am-1pm


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.
licensesampleDriver 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

Thawing Icy Road Conditions

People for Bikes is currently rolling out a national ad campaign called ‘Travel With Care‘. According to their site, “The campaign’s message is built around bettering behavior by both people in cars and on bikes by asking them to travel with care and to ‘melt icy relations on the road.'”

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This isn’t the first ad campaign designed to encourage drivers and cyclists to see each other as partners in safety. To get a broader perspective, we took a look at similar road safety campaigns and collected some of their best thoughts.
On the topic of sharing responsibility for creating a safe environment, Massachusetts’ ‘Same Roads, Same Rules’ campaign puts it well:Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 4.44.17 PM

  • It’s about people just trying to get where they’re going safely.
  • It’s about respecting each others right to be on the road.
  • It’s about keeping each other safe by following a common set of rules that we all know.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 4.47.21 PMThe UK’s ‘Let’s Look Out for Each Other’ campaign‘ adds to that:

  • Look out for each other, especially when turning
  • Signal intentions so that the other road user can react
  • Give cyclists space and remember that cyclists are advised to ride well clear of the [curb] to be visible and avoid collisions

The commonality among the campaigns is the notion that the divide between ‘cyclists’ and ‘motorists’ is an imaginary one. All road users are people just trying to get from one place to another. We’ve got the same errands to run, same places to go and the same daily worries – the only difference is in our choice of transportation on a given day. Since the vast majority of people who ride bicycles also regularly drive a motor vehicle, today’s cyclist could literally be tomorrow’s motorist!
However, recognizing the humanity of a fellow road user is only half the battle. How do you preserve the sense that we’re all in this together while battling with traffic? To answer that, we turn to London’s ‘Share the Road’ campaign:

“We all compete for space and as our population grows, the roads get busier and there’s less space to be had. All road users – motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists – are affected by the issues we face today: the pace of traffic and the pace of life. Sometimes it gets to us all and we lose our cool. But what if we let it go? And leave it behind? [We’re] asking all road users to think about their attitudes on the road. If we were all a bit more considerate, rather than competing and losing our temper, then we’d all have better, safer and less stressful journeys.”

Acknowledging our tendency to get frustrated on the road and dealing with it by choosing to act calmly instead of reacting hastily is a giant step toward making the road a safer place.  And don’t forget about the human element – giving a smile or a wave (even a ‘sorry, my bad’ wave) makes the road a better place for everyone.
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