With 2022 just around the corner, we highlight two things that come with the new year – an increase in Bay Area bridge tolls and new laws that affect drivers.
Bay Area Bridge Tolls: Tolls at the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges will go up by $1 on January 1, 2022. Regular tolls for cars, trucks, and motorcycles at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay, Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael, and San Mateo-Hayward bridges will increase to $7.
New Laws Which Affect the Average Driver: After reviewing the CHP Press Release on new laws affecting motorists, there’s not much to report going in to 2022. However, if you’re not familiar with the new laws that went into effect in 2021, now is a good time to review them.
One law that went into effect on July 1, 2021, is worth mentioning specifically:
- Points for distracted driving: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.'”
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:
- 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.
The 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.