A number of new laws have gone into effect with the birth of the New Year. In the area of traffic laws, three important laws went into effect on Jan. 1. Under one of these laws, motorists under the age of 18 will be prohibited from writing, sending or reading text messages while driving. This will include messages that are sent using hands-free devices. Officials say that the new law applies specifically to teens under the age of 18. In addition, vehicle registration fees will increase by $1 for passenger vehicles and $2 for commercial vehicles in the New Year. These additional fees are expected to subsidize programs related to vehicle theft.
New Hit-and-Run Law
Another law that takes effect this year is related to the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases. Beginning Jan. 1, a criminal complaint can be filed within three years of hit-and-run crimes that result in death, permanent injuries or serious injuries. In addition, prosecutors will also have one year to file criminal charges against hit-and-run drivers after they have been identified as suspects in serious crashes. Hopefully this new law will help hold hit-and-run drivers accountable giving a sense of justice and closure to victims and their families.
Bicycle Safety Law
One of the most important new laws that will effect in 2014 concerns passing distances granted to bicyclists. Beginning Sept. 16, it will be unlawful for any part of a motor vehicle to come within 3 feet of a bicyclist. If it is not possible to remain outside the 3-foot buffer zone, the driver is required to slow down to a “reasonable and prudent speed” and only pass the bicyclist when it’s safe to do so.
How Traffic Laws Keep Us Safer
These new laws and other traffic laws are in place to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the roadway – motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. They also remind us of our rights and responsibilities as motorists. Anyone who has been injured by a negligent or reckless motorist can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Injured victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who will analyze all aspects of the incident and ensure that the negligent parties are held liable.