On January 1, 2017, several new California laws went into effect. The laws might have been passed at various times in the past year, but the effective date was the start of this new year.
Several of the new laws are related to traffic accidents. Last week’s blog post discussed the law getting the most attention from car accident attorneys: AB 1785, which prohibits drivers from using any hand held electronic device that is not legally mounted in the car and which can be activated with a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.
Another law related to the work of car accident lawyers is SB491, which changes the law requiring drivers to report motor vehicle accidents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Before January 1, car crashes resulting in damages of $750 or more had to be officially reported to the DMV. Starting in 2017, the minimum amount of damage from a collision or vehicle accident that triggers the reporting requirement is $1,000.
A change to the child safety seat law is designed to prevent serious harm and injury when a car crash occurs. AB 53 now requires all children under the age of two years to be placed in an appropriate rear-facing child seat. The exception to this requirement is children who weigh at least 40 pounds or are taller than 40 inches.
Other laws designed to increase vehicle safety, which in turn reduces serious injury and death after car accidents include AB 287, the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety CARS Act. The CARS Act requires California DMS to include information about vehicle recalls and necessary repairs with vehicle registration renewal notices. The law also prohibits automobile dealers and rental car companies from loaning or renting cars with recalls until the car has been repaired (the ban on using the cars goes into effect 48 hours after the company receives notice of the recall).
Related to recall notices, AB 2387 bans the installation of counterfeit or nonfunctional air bags. When an air bag in a vehicle is replaced, the replacement must be legitimate and functional. In addition, the law prohibits the sale or installation of devices that would cause a vehicle’s diagnostic system to not warn a driver when the vehicle has been equipped with a fake or nonfunctional airbag, or no airbag at all.
The new safety laws don’t just cover individual passenger cars—school, charter and tour buses all have laws that cover them. Buses and child care motor vehicles used to transport school-age children must have a “child safety alert system” installed by the 2018-2019 school year, and every school must have a safety plan to ensure children are not left unattended in vehicles (SB 1072). The “child safety alert system” is a device located at the back of the bus that drivers have to touch or scan, which prompts them to walk through the vehicle and check for children. Tour buses will be required to have additional safety inspections conducted by local governments (AB 1677). Charter buses will be equipped with emergency lights that are activated in an accident and drivers will have to educate passengers about safety equipment and emergency exits at the beginning of a trips (SB 247).
While new laws play an essential role, the most important way to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities is for individual drivers to obey all traffic laws and drive as safely as possible.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an automobile wreck, call the car accident attorneys at Cerritos Legal today at 562-865-9356 for your free consultation.