The new year has ushered in new traffic safety laws for California, which our Orange County car accident lawyers hope, will help save lives, prevent injuries and make our roadways safer for everyone. According to the California Highway Patrol's website, these laws or changes to current laws, were passed by the state Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Here are some of the new laws of which we should all be aware.
Child Safety Seats
Assembly Bill 53 was passed during the 2015 Legislative session and took effect Jan. 1. Under this new law, children under 2 must ride rear-facing, in an appropriate child passenger safety seat. If a child weighs 40 pounds or more or is more than 40 inches tall, he or she is exempt from this law. Please remember that state law still requires that all children under the age of 8 be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat in the back of the vehicle.
Distracted Driving Law
The passage of Assembly Bill 1785 prohibits motorists from holding a wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device while driving. Drivers can, however, mount the device 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. Motorists also have the option of affixing the device to the dashboard in a place that does not obstruct the driver's view of the road and does not interfere with airbag deployment. Drivers can use an electronic device such as a cell phone with a single tap or swiping motion, but they cannot hold the device.
Law Involving DUI Drivers
Under Senate Bill 1046, which was passed and signed into law by Governor Brown last year, DUI offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device or IID on their vehicle for a specified period of time in order to get a restricted driver's license or to get their license reinstated. The law removes the required suspension time before a person can get a restricted license, provided the offender get the IID installed on their vehicle. In addition, the law extends the current IID pilot program in four California counties until Jan. 1, 2019 when all DUI offenders statewide will be required to install the device in order to get their licenses reinstated.
Under California law, motorcycle lane splitting is legal, if done safely. Assembly Bill 51 essentially defines lane splitting as driving a motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles. The new law also allows the California Highway Patrol to develop lane-splitting safety guidelines.
School Bus Safety Senate Bill 1072 requires all school buses or any type of bus used to transport school-age students to be equipped with a child safety alert system. All schools in California are also required under this law to have a transportation safety plan with clear-cut procedures to help ensure that a pupil is not left unattended in a bus.
Charter and Tour Bus Safety
Under Senate Bill 247, all buses manufactured after July 1, 2020 will be required to have emergency lighting fixtures that will turn on in the event of a crash. Charter bus companies under this law will also be required to provide oral and written or video instructions to passengers regarding safety equipment on the bus and emergency exits before the start of the trip. Also, Assembly Bill 1677 requires the California Highway Patrol to come up with protocols for entering into agreements with local governments to increase the number of inspections of tour buses that are operated within their jurisdiction.
Accidents Caused by Negligence
A number of traffic accidents in Orange County and elsewhere in California, are caused by drivers who are reckless or negligent. Many of these laws, especially those pertaining to impaired and distracted drivers, aim to reduce the number of dangerous drivers out on our roadways. Laws such as the one requiring more tour bus inspections help ensure that bus companies are more diligent when it comes to maintaining their buses properly. Despite these laws, unfortunately, we do see tragic auto accidents that cause severe injuries and fatalities.
Protecting Your Rights
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, it is crucial that you understand your legal rights and options. First, make sure you file a police report and obtain a copy for your own records. Try to obtain as much evidence as possible from the scene of the crash including photographs of the vehicles, the crash scene and your injuries, names and contact information from those involved in the crash, insurance information, driver's license, and contacts for eyewitnesses. Be sure to seek and obtain prompt medical attention, treatment and care for your injuries. This not only gives you a shot at a quick and complete recovery, but also documents the types of injuries you sustained in the crash and the treatment you sought.
Injured victims of auto accidents can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, permanent injuries, disabilities, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Families that have lost loved ones in auto accidents can file what is known as a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for medical and funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love, care and companionship.
Finally, it is important to have an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer on your side who will fight for your rights and help you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. You need a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through what can be a complex process. Further, a car accident attorney who is experienced in handling cases similar to yours will be able to identify and successfully pursue all avenues of compensation resulting in the best possible outcome.
The caliber of attorney you hire to represent you in your personal injury case can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. If you have been injured in a local car accident, call Timothy J. Ryan & Associates at (800) 838-6644 for a free consultation and case evaluation.