As part of its mission to save lives, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) seeks to inform people about several new laws signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. during the 2015 legislative session. These new laws apply to various aspects of roadway safety.
Child safety seats (AB 53, Garcia) Beginning January 1, 2017, children under two years of age must ride rear-facing in an appropriate child passenger safety seat. Children weighing 40 or more pounds or standing 40 or more inches tall would be exempt. California law continues to require that all children eight years of age or younger be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
Hit-and-run (AB 8, Gatto) A “Yellow Alert” notification system will be established as of January 1, 2016, for specified hit-and-run incidents resulting in death or serious injury. As with AMBER, Silver, or Blue Alerts, the CHP will work with requesting law enforcement agencies to determine whether the hit-and-run meets the criteria for a Yellow Alert, including the use of the freeway Changeable Message Signs (CMS). Criteria established in the law include the availability of information about the hit-and-run suspect or the suspect’s vehicle, and whether disseminating the information will be helpful.
Driving under the influence: Ignition Interlock Device (SB 61, Hill) This new law grants a one-year extension to a pilot project for the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties. The pilot was first instituted in 2010. Under the current law, a person convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) may be required to install an IID in their vehicle. If the IID registers alcohol on the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start. The length of time the IID is required in the vehicle is based on how many prior DUI convictions the driver has had.
Silver Alerts (AB 643, Nazarian) The “Silver Alert” notification system has been amended to allow the alert to be communicated on CMS when there is a vehicle involved in the missing person incident. The Silver Alert is an emergency system that allows law enforcement to broadcast regional or statewide alerts for seniors, or individuals with developmental disabilities or who are cognitively impaired, and are missing and may be in danger.
Highway lane use (AB 208, Bigelow) The law requiring slow-moving passenger vehicles to pull over safely to let traffic pass has been amended to apply to all vehicles, effective January 1, 2016. Bicycles will now be included in the legal requirement that slow-moving vehicles use the next available turnout or other area to let backed-up traffic – five or more vehicles – get by.
Electronically motorized boards (AB 604, Olsen) The new law defines “electronically motorized board” as a wheeled device designed to be stood on and powered by electronic propulsion, going no more than 15 miles per hour. The electronically motorized boards can only be ridden on a highway with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, or specific designated bikeways. The rider must be at least 16 years old and must wear a bicycle helmet. Cities and counties are authorized to restrict the use of the electrically motorized boards.
Electric bicycles (AB 1096, Chiu) The new law, effective January 1, 2016, creates three separate classes of electric bicycles, defined by their maximum speed and how much power is supplied by the motor. Classes 1 and 2 have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. A Class 3 electric bicycle has a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour. The operator of a Class 3 bicycle must be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet. Manufacturers and distributors must label the bicycles with the classification number, top assisted speed, and wattage. The new law sets up safety restrictions and regulates access on trails and paths.
For complete information on bills enacted in 2015, please refer to the Legislative Counsel Web site at http://LegInfo.Legislature.ca.gov.