Increasing Oceanside Motorist Safety: New 2016 Laws to Know About

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On January 1, 2016, 807 bills signed by Governor Brown took effect. Several of these new laws changed the way that the State of California monitors and responds to automobile accidents. Compared to many other cities in California of comparable size, Riverside experiences greater than average automobile collisions. The most recent available report reveals that in 2013, Oceanside saw 1,534 fatalities due to automobile collisions and 159 collisions involving alcohol. While these laws should lessen these collision numbers, motorists must make sure to comply with the changes created by these laws. This article will explain in detail how these new laws involving driving safety will impact the State of California in general and the Oceanside community in particular.

Yellow Alerts

The California Highway Patrol is now allowed to use electronic freeway signs to alert motorists about some other types of events. “Yellow Alerts” refer to warnings posted on electronic freeway signs alerting other motorists to hit-and-run collisions in the hopes of decreasing the amount of uncaught offenders in the state. The law only extends to accidents that occur on state freeways that fall under the jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol. The Emergency Alert System, according to California law, can now use electronic freeway signs to alert motorists about hit-and-run accidents when the following conditions are satisfied:

  • Escape. There must be some type of evidence that the suspect either fled the scene through the state highway system or is likely to be observed by the public through the use of the electronic signs.
  • Identifying Characteristics. Law enforcement must observe the suspect’s complete license plate number, a partial license number with other identifying characteristics, or identify the suspect of the hit-and-run.
  • Purpose. Posting an alert about the hit-and-run suspect must help prevent further harm or quicken law enforcement efforts to detain the suspect.
  • Serious. The accident must involve serious injuries or fatalities.

Hit-and-run offenses will still prove a challenge to litigate. The law will only remain in effect until January 1, 2019, although the law may be overwritten or altered by a subsequent statute. Not to mention, hit-and-run lawsuits will still provide many challenges including the frequent lack of automobile insurance by hit-and-run offenders and interference by criminal prosecution. In 2013, the California Office of Traffic Safety reported 99 fatalities or collisions due to hit-and-run accidents in Riverside. Hopefully, the addition of yellow alerts will further decrease this number by facilitating the apprehension of hit-and-run offenders.

Enforced Tow Truck Regulations

Recently, individuals involved in serious collisions on Riverside roads have faced a new danger: “bandit” tow truck operators. These “bandit” tow truck drivers monitor police radios and respond to accidents in need of assistance. “Bandit” drivers then tow vehicles to private shops or storage facilities that hold the vehicles until the motorist pays fees that raise to exorbitant prices. While even the Los Angeles Police Department issued reports in 2014 about the dangers presented by “bandit” tow truck drivers, this legislation represents the first types of laws addressing the problem. This bill both revised already existing California law and added new law. Tow truck driver fees are now capped. Tow truck storage businesses that take possession of a vehicle from a truck must also now document information about the towing company, the tow truck driver, and the time of the tow at risk of punishment by fine or imprisonment.

The tow truck driver must also obtain certain information about the accident prior to leaving the scene. The goal of these laws is to stop and greatly decrease the amount of “bandit” tow truck drivers, but hopefully this law serves to prevent this additional hazard of roadside automobile collisions from occurring.

Access to Rideshare Driver Records

Rideshare companies are expanding more rapidly in California than many other states. The Los Angeles times recently published an article detailing the rapid growth of Uber, which represents just one of many rideshare companies in California. Unfortunately, accidents due to poor driving skills of rideshare drivers can and do occur. In an effort to handle car collisions involving rideshare drivers, California has begun to pass a series of laws detailing the situation. Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber are also referred to transportation network companies. One of the laws that became effective on January 1, 2016 requires transportation network companies to participate in the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ Employer Pull Notice.

The Employer Pull Notice is a program designed to provide employers and regulatory agencies with a means of promoting driver safety through the review of driving records. As a result, the Employer Pull Notice program will provide each transportation network company with a report showing a driver’s current public record as recorded by the department. In addition, the Employer Pull Notice program will update a driver’s transportation network company immediately if the driver is involved in accidents, driver’s license revocation or suspension, moving violations, revocations, and any other actions. This addition to California code will result in better monitoring of rideshare drivers which help rideshare companies make sure that drivers meet certain safety standard. As a result, drivers in not only Riverside but also California can likely expect a decrease in the number of car collisions caused by rideshare drivers over the following few years.

Car Seats

Car collisions involving children are one of the most emotionally difficult types of automobile accidents. In an effort to improve the safety of children passengers, California enacted a new law regarding child safety seats. In accordance with previous law, children under the age of one were required to be placed in child safety seats. Although not enforced until January 2017, motorists with children should prepare for this law and practice safer methods by placing children younger than two year olds in child safety seats.

If you have been involved in any type of car collision in Oceanside, do not hesitate to call our experienced car accident attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers for help recovering compensation. As soon as possible for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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