It’s the start of another new year, and the California Highway Patrol is educating the public about new traffic laws and safety regulations that took effect on New Year’s Day. In the most recent legislative session, Governor Gavin Newsom approved these new traffic laws. Two of the laws, in particular, bear significance when it comes to road safety across California.
Pilot Program with Cameras to Catch Speeding Drivers
One important law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2024, that drivers should be aware of is the use of street intersection cameras to apprehend speeding drivers. Cameras at intersections across California already flag drivers who run red lights. Under a new law, six cities have the go-ahead to begin a pilot program aimed at catching and finding speeding drivers with the same cameras that are used to catch red-light runners.
The six cities are Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach, San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco. The pilot programs under this new law will last five years or until January 2032, whichever date is sooner. After a 60-day introductory period of issuing only warnings to violators, fines will start at $50 for drivers who go at least 11 mph over the speed limit. Amounts can be reduced depending on income.
Money from the fines will go toward covering the cost of the program as well as additional traffic-calming measures, such as raised crosswalks and speed tables aimed at slowing drivers down. The six cities will also be required under the law to submit reports about their programs detailing any improvements to street safety and impacts on communities.
Safety advocates have welcomed this new traffic law, saying that speed cameras have proven to be effective at reducing the number of road fatalities and accidents. The cameras capture the license plate numbers and not the faces of the drivers in an attempt to allay concerns about violations of privacy and data security.
End of Statewide Ban on Cruising
As of Jan. 1, California has ended its statewide ban on cruising when drivers show off classic and customized lowrider vehicles by leisurely riding on city streets. The new law follows the lifting of cruising limits in other California cities, including San Jose, Modesto, and Sacramento. Cruising bans have been criticized as discriminatory against the Latino community, where this type of activity is deep-rooted in car culture.
However, law enforcement groups and some cities argue that cruising is a threat to public safety because it can potentially lead to street takeovers, which could be deadly to participants and bystanders.
Standing, Stopping, and Parking Near Crosswalks
This law was designed to increase visibility at crosswalks. It prohibits parking or stopping a vehicle along a curb at least 20 feet from a marked crosswalk or within 15 feet of a crosswalk where a curb extension is present.
The regulation only applies to the side of the road of the vehicle’s approach to the crosswalk. Local jurisdictions may set different distances through local ordinances by marking areas with signs or paint.
Under California law, pedestrians have the right of way in marked and unmarked crosswalks. Drivers are required to slow down and come to a stop at crosswalks to yield the right of way to pedestrians. Drivers can proceed only after the pedestrian has crossed the road and when it is safe to go.
New Traffic Laws Address Common Causes of Vehicle and Pedestrian Accidents
The three new traffic laws listed above address problems commonly leading to car and pedestrian accidents in California. These include:
Speeding is not only a cause of car accidents but also contributes to the severity of crash-related injuries, posing substantial risks to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Exceeding the designated speed limit reduces a driver’s ability to react promptly to sudden changes in traffic conditions, increasing the likelihood of collisions. Speeding contributes to serious accidents by:
- Reducing reaction time: Driving at higher speeds limits the time available for a driver to react to hazards, such as unexpected obstacles, pedestrians, or vehicles merging, leading to an increased probability of accidents.
- Increasing impact and severity: Speeding intensifies the force of impact in a collision, making accidents more severe and causing more significant injuries or fatalities for everyone involved.
- Causing drivers to lose control: Higher speeds make it challenging to maintain control of the vehicle, especially when navigating sharp turns, slippery roads, or adverse weather conditions, increasing the risk of losing control and crashing.
- Reducing stopping distance: Speeding amplifies the distance required to stop a vehicle, making it difficult to halt quickly in emergencies, potentially resulting in rear-end collisions or inability to avoid obstacles.
- Increasing risks for pedestrians and cyclists: Speeding not only endangers other drivers but also poses a severe threat to pedestrians and cyclists, reducing their chances of survival or causing severe injuries in case of an accident.
Failure to Yield Right of Way to Pedestrians
Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians poses a grave danger due to the vulnerability of individuals on foot in comparison to vehicles. When drivers neglect to give way to pedestrians at crosswalks or intersections, it heightens the risk of severe accidents.
Pedestrians rely on the expectation that vehicles will yield, allowing them to safely navigate roadways. Disregarding this right of way not only violates traffic regulations but also endangers lives.
The consequences can be catastrophic, resulting in collisions that lead to significant injuries or fatalities for pedestrians. Moreover, such incidents can cause emotional trauma and long-lasting effects on victims and their families.
The failure to yield undermines the safety and security of individuals in the community and contributes to an unsafe road environment, emphasizing the critical importance of drivers respecting pedestrians’ right of way to prevent devastating accidents.
For more information on traffic laws in California and to find out if you might have a car accident case, contact our skilled attorneys at Bisnar Chase.