Each new year brings change to the California Vehicle Code. Many of these changes will have a significant impact on roadway safety. Californians are fortunate to have Legislators who work to identify and respond to the evolving trends of traffic safety. This year, we see changes to helmet use on bicycles, motorized scooters and the expansion of the hit-and-run offense within bicycle paths (lanes). Here are highlights on several of these new laws:
▪ Bicycle helmets (AB 3077, Caballero): Persons under the age of 18 not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or skates will receive a “fix-it” ticket. A “fix-it” ticket is considered non-punitive and is correctable with proof the minor has completed a bicycle safety course and has a helmet that meets safety standards. These items must be presented within 120 days to the issuing law enforcement agency to be considered corrected.
▪ Helmet use on motorized scooters (AB 2989, Flora): Bicycle helmets are no longer required for riders of motorized scooters who are age 18 or older. Motorized scooters may operate within a bicycle path and on highways with speed limits up to 25 mph. Local jurisdictions may pass ordinances to allow motorized scooters on highways with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour. However, it is still illegal to operate a motorized scooter on a sidewalk.
▪ Bicycle hit-and-run on bicycle path (AB 1755, Steinorth): The provisions of the felony hit-and-run law have been extended to cyclists traveling along bicycle paths. Currently, in the California Vehicle Code, a motor vehicle driver involved in a collision resulting in death or injury to another party is required to stop at the scene. AB 1755 clarifies that the same vehicle code also applies to bicyclists who cause injury-related collisions.
▪ Certain vehicle exhaust violations are no longer correctable (AB 1824, Committee on Budget): A fine will become mandatory when drivers of loud motor vehicles and motorcycles are cited. Previously, a driver or motorcyclist who was cited for modified or excessively loud exhaust or muffler systems could merely correct the violation to avoid a fine. AB 1824 is meant to deter repeat offenders who operate their vehicles with illegal exhaust systems.
▪ Unsafe, unsecured loads on vehicles (AB 1925, Choi): This law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to include at least one question addressing laws pertaining to driving with an unsafe, unsecured load in at least 20 percent of the knowledge tests administered to driver license applicants. Unsecured loads, such as ladders, buckets and loose items in the back of pickup trucks, can be dangerous for motorists when they fall onto the road. AB 1925 will assist in the education of new drivers traveling with an unsafe and unsecured load.
▪ Passing waste service vehicles (AB 2115, Santiago): When approaching or overtaking a refuse collection vehicle with its amber light flashing, drivers must move into an adjacent lane, if possible, and pass at a safe distance. If it is not possible, drivers must slow to a safe and reasonable speed. AB 2115 provides a safety margin for sanitation workers while they are actively working.
The CHP suggests you stay on top of the ever changing rules of the road. If you have any questions regarding California traffic laws please stop by your local CHP office or visit http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/. On behalf of the California Highway Patrol, Happy New Year and drive safe!