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2017 California Traffic Law Updates: 7 New Changes

Summertime is nearly here, which means more people than ever will be hitting the road. Before you head out on the open road, it is important to be aware of new updates to California traffic laws and make sure that you are abiding by them. California is constantly updating its traffic laws, and if you are planning on driving within the state, it is of the utmost importance to keep track of these changes.

The California Highway Patrol recently released a press release with these new changes, and a quick summary of their new updates are below.

1) Child safety seats

Passed in 2015, the law officially took effect on January 1st of this year. Children under two must ride in an appropriate passenger, rear-facing safety seat. In order to be exempt from this rule, children must weigh 40 pounds or more, or standing 40 or more inches tall.

2) Vehicles: Use of Wireless Electronic Devices

With this update, motorists are no longer allowed to hold any sort of wireless telephone or electronic device while driving. Instead of holding it, the device must be mounted "in the 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver."

Another alternative offered is to fasten the device to the dashboard somewhere where it does not block the driver's view of the road, and does not interfere at all with airbag deployment.

However, the law does allow for drivers to operate devices with single swipe or tap motions but the driver cannot be holding the device while doing so.

3) Driving under the influence: Ignition Interlock Device

This update requires that DUI offenders install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles for specified periods of time if they wish to reinstate their license, or if they would like to get a restricted driver license.

Any required suspension time before an offender can get a license is also removed, if they are willing to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. This option currently extends to Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda and Tulare.

This is currently a pilot program scheduled to last until January 1, 2019. At that time, DUI offenders throughout the state will be mandated to install an ignition interlock device if they wish to have their licenses reinstated.

4) Vehicle Motorcycles: Lane Splitting

The current law is not undergoing any change, as lane splitting by a motorcyclist is still legal as long as it is done so safely. However, this bill defines lane splitting as driving a motorcycle and allows the California Highway Patrol to develop educational safety guidelines on lane splitting.

This will be done in consultation with other state traffic safety agencies, as well as at least one organization that is focused on promoting motorcycle safety.

5) School Bus Safety : Child Alert System

This law will require all school buses and other encompassing motor vehicles to be equipped with alert systems designed for child safety. Each school will be required to furnish a transportation safety plan, which should include procedures to ensure a child is not left unattended in a motor vehicle.

6) Charter Bus Safety Improvements

Any bus manufactured after July 1, 2020 must have emergency lighting fixtures that will turn on if there is an impact or collision. This law also mandates that bus companies ensure that charter bus drivers provide oral, written or video instructions to passengers on safety equipment present in the bus. The driver must also provide oral, written or video instructions on emergency exits present on the bus prior to any trip.

7) Tour Buses: Safety Inspections

This law mandates that California Highway Patrol develop protocols for "entering into a memorandum of understanding with local governments to increase the number of inspections for tour buses operated within their jurisdiction."

The California Highway Patrol endeavors to educate the public whenever possible of new changes to traffic laws. For more information on the new traffic laws, please see the full release here.

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