California Introduces New Traffic Laws for 2022
California streets and highways are known for being very dangerous. The highways are often clogged, so you can expect to see a traffic jam at any time of the day. With so many vehicles on the roads, it isn’t surprising that so many traffic accidents occur. The latest year for which we have traffic statistics is 2019, and these will show exactly how dangerous driving in California has been.
Statistics on Driving in California
- In 2019, 3,606 traffic accidents resulted in a fatality, but this number is lower than the number we had in 2018.
- That same year, drunken drivers caused 1,066 fatalities, and believe it or not, this is fewer than the number of drunk driving fatalities in 2018.
- Passenger deaths were also high in 2019 with 620 fatalities due to the fact that the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. This number was similar to the number from 2018.
Although many fatalities decreased in 2019, the following deaths also occurred:
- In 2019, 130 bicyclists lost their lives in collisions; there were 165 deaths in 2018.
- There were 972 pedestrian deaths recorded in 2019.
- Teen fatalities dropped by 19%.
- Motorcyclist deaths dropped from 523 in 2018 to 474 in 2019. This is a nearly 10% drop.
The California Legislature
The legislature passed several traffic laws at the end of last year with the purpose of improving road safety. Governor Gavin Newsom signed these laws last year, and they took effect on January 1, 2022. Some of these laws include the following:
Requirements to Reduce Speed Limits
Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 43 into law on October 8, 2021. Because of this law, local authorities have the ability to lower speed limits on state highways when conditions increase the possibility that pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable populations could be in danger of being involved in a car collision.
Increased Penalties for Sideshows
Assembly Bill 3 increases the penalties that motorists receive for engaging in sideshows. An example of a “sideshow” is when at least two vehicles block a highway so that participants may perform stunts with their vehicles.
If a motorist was engaged in this behavior while speeding, he may have his license suspended for at least three months. At the most, it could be suspended for six months. This law will not be effective until July 1, 2025. It was passed for the purpose of increasing the penalties for engaging in sideshows. Sideshows are dangerous because street racing and activities like it are very dangerous to other vehicles and people on the roads.
Increased Penalties for Distracted Driving
The legislature passed Assembly Bill 47 in 2019, and it became effective on July 1, 2021. Under the current law, if a person is convicted of distracted driving two times within three years, points will be added to his driving record. If a person violated the hands-free driving law twice within 36 months, the DMV will assess a violation point against the person’s driver’s license. This law was passed to prevent motorists from using their cell phones or texting while they are driving.
The legislature passed Assembly Bill 974, and the governor signed it on September 16, 2021. This law amends the California Vehicle Code that pertains to equestrian safety. If a minor is going to ride a horse on a paved highway, he or she will be required to wear an approved helmet. A rider of any age will be required to wear reflective clothing on the side or the front of his body or his horse so that motorists can see him 500 feet away in their headlamps. In addition to that, riders must have a white light on their horses or on themselves so that motorists can see them from 300 feet away. If they are crossing the highway from an unpaved road, they do not have to have a helmet.
Residents of the San Fernando Valley wrote this law because of a horrible accident that occurred in October of 2019. A motor vehicle hit two people and the two horses they were riding, and both horses were killed. The accident left the two people in critical condition. The horses weren’t wearing reflective gear, and the riders were not wearing reflective gear and did not have helmets on.
Children are required to wear helmets when they ride their bicycles. In the preamble to this law, the legislature made a point of stating that fact. Now, when minors ride horses, they will be required to wear helmets, and if they violate this law, they will receive a fine of $25.
Assistance for Tribal Emergency Vehicles
It has been extremely difficult for tribal leaders to operate emergency vehicles on tribal land. The process of obtaining this permission was extremely lengthy, so the emergency vehicles that the tribes purchased couldn’t be put to use while this process was ongoing. Because of this, tribes couldn’t use their own vehicles to attend to people in need. Instead, they had to ask private ambulance operators to help them respond to emergencies. These private ambulances were located outside of the borders of tribal lands, so people in need had to wait a longer period of time for help to arrive.
Assemblyman James Ramos sponsored Assembly Bill 798 so that requirements for operating ambulances would be the same for the tribes as they are for the counties and cities. This shortens the waiting time that people living on tribal lands have to wait for ambulances.
The new law allows ambulances that tribal fire departments operate to skip the lengthier process of obtaining private licenses to operate emergency vehicles on tribal lands. Because of this law, when people are sick or injured on tribal lands, emergency vehicles will arrive much sooner so that they can be taken to the hospital in less time.
Senate Bill 287
The legislature approved Senate Bill 287, and Gov. Newsom signed it this year. It is not going to go into effect until January 1, 2027. This law states that a Class C driver’s license permits a motorist to tow a trailer that weighs 10,001 to 15,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating. Motorists may also tow a trailer weighing 10,001 to 15,000 pounds gross vehicle weight using a kingpin and fifth-wheel or a bed mounted gooseneck connection. Even so, this will only be allowed under a particular set of circumstances.
For example, the person must not be towing the vehicle for monetary purposes. Also, the trailer must be towed for the purposes of recreation or for the purpose of transporting a living space or property. Lastly, the driver of the vehicle must pass a written examination, and the driver must have an endorsement on his or her license.
The Reason These New Traffic Laws Were Passed
The purpose of passing these new traffic laws was to increase road safety. These laws increased the penalties for distracted driving and side shows so that motorists will refrain from engaging in these behaviors. They also hope to prevent accidents. The purpose of lowering speeds near elder care centers, near schools and in residential neighborhoods is to prevent accidents that occur between motor vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists.
Hiring an Attorney Following a Car Accident
If you are wondering if you should hire a car accident attorney after a collision, the answer is definitely, “Yes!” It doesn’t matter if your accident was minor. You may have been injured, so you must speak to a car accident attorney right away.
At the scene, you can make several mistakes that will harm your case if you plan to sue the at-fault driver. Even in a minor car accident, you can sustain serious injuries that will not show up for several days. You don’t always know that you have been significantly hurt after a car collision.
Some injuries are obvious, such as head trauma, broken bones and lacerations. You may not have experienced these injuries, but you could have contusions, stretched ligaments or strained tendons.
In the event that your head snapped back suddenly, you might not experience any pain until you wake up the next morning. This isn’t uncommon because car accidents cause the adrenaline to run through your body, and this adrenaline keeps you from feeling the pain. It is important to go to the hospital after a car accident even if you don’t believe that you were hurt. You need to be examined by a physician to make sure that you are in good condition. If not, you can begin treatment early in the process.
In addition to having the medical evidence and the reports that your physician writes, you also need to call the police so that a law enforcement officer can write a report. Your insurance company will need this report to demonstrate to the court that you were seriously injured in the collision. You must also take the other driver’s information down, such as name and insurance information because your lawyer will need it to investigate your case.
If you need to hire a car accident attorney, contact us at JT Legal Group today.