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100 Most Influential Lawyers in America
– the National Law Journal

New laws and programs set to improve road safety in California

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Auto accidents are an unfortunate daily occurrence throughout California. Regulators, legislators and law enforcement are keenly aware of the dangers present on the state roadways and strive to improve the landscape for people to get back and forth without worrying if they will reach their destination safely. Prevention is always preferable to being in a collision.

With that, the state has put into effect a series of new laws to try and enhance safety. In addition, there are ongoing questions about current safety initiatives that are not having the desired impact in making the roads less dangerous. These issues should be understood. When people are in a crash, it is also wise to have a comprehensive grasp of what they should do in the aftermath.

New laws for safety

As the new year gets underway, new laws are in place for the Golden State. Some – like the requirement that equestrians wear a helmet and tribal emergency vehicles operating with less waiting time – have limited relevance for everyday commuters. Others, however, are designed to prevent crashes. They address:

  • Sideshows
  • Distracted driving
  • Reducing local speed limits

Sideshows include people who take part in illegal street races. That now extends to people who are making reckless maneuvers like brake-screeching spinouts. Those who illegally race lose their driver’s licenses. Beginning on July 1, 2025, drivers who are involved in a sideshow can lose their license for three to six months. While that is still three-plus years away, law enforcement and legislators have at least sent the signal that they know it happens and drivers will face consequences for it.

With speed limits, the state has certain maximum levels in place. The new law allows local officials to reduce the speed limits further if it believes that bicyclists and pedestrians are in danger. Regarding distracted driving, drivers will now receive points on their driving record if they are cited twice within 36 months. This law went into effect in July 2021. It is important because distraction is a problem that is ongoing and getting worse.

Vision Zero

The new laws are meant to help prevent auto accidents. Other ways in which safety has come to the forefront include initiatives like Vision Zero. In Los Angeles, Vision Zero has set a goal of stopping all road fatalities by 2025. It has been in place since 2015 and the numbers indicate that it is not having a major impact. In 2021, there were 294 road fatalities in Los Angeles. This was 20% more than there were in 2019. Of those, 132 were pedestrians. This was 6% higher than 2019.

Certain areas are the targets for scrutiny as they tend to be lacking in crosswalks and traffic lights inviting drivers to speed through and potentially collide with pedestrians who have no safe way to cross. With Vision Zero, traffic lanes were removed, bike lanes were widened and crosswalks were put in place. Regardless, the same problems persist – among them issues that dovetail with the new laws in place – namely, distracted driving. If a driver is looking down instead of at the road, it obviously lays the foundation for an accident.

Laws and initiatives can be beneficial, but they will not stop all accidents

Despite the well-intentioned attempts to make the roads safer, the sad fact is that auto accidents are bound to happen. People can be hit when they are simply going to work, running an errand, bicycling to get some exercise or taking a walk. This is always unexpected and can result in major life challenges. People will need medical care, be forced to think about how they will cover costs, wonder about their professional future and consider how the crash will impact their family life. For families who have lost a loved one in a fatal accident, these factors are magnified.

To know what steps are available, it is wise to have assistance with assessing the situation and moving forward. Consulting with professionals who know the ins and outs of auto accidents can be positive from the beginning.