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CHP reminds public of new highway safety laws approved in 2017

CHP reminds public of new highway...

UPDATE 12/22/2017 4 p.m.: Some new traffic laws are taking effect in 2018 and the California Highway Patrol wants drivers to be prepared.

Two of them involve marijuana, which is especially important with recreational marijuana sales going into effect on January 1. 

The first law, smoking or ingesting cannabis while driving or riding in a vehicle is prohibited. It’s similar to current laws against drinking while driving.

The second law, no open containers or bags of marijuana or any edibles can be in the car. They have to be packed away in the trunk.

Drivers we spoke with agree safeguards should be in place to keep everyone safe on the road. 

"I think it's good cause people who are driving can second-handedly get affected by the smoke and obviously they would be driving under the influence," one driver said.

"I'm old school,” another man said. “I disagree with it being legalized in the first place but that makes me the minority, I understand that. But the fact that it is legalized, I totally agree with just like alcohol, no smoking and driving, no drinking and driving."

Another part of the law includes law enforcement undergoing specialized training to recognize the signs of drugged driving. 

"What we do to is send officers to additional training where they learn about the different types of drugs, how those drugs affect you and how to look for the different indicators,” said CHP Officer Oscar Loza. “And so when we suspect somebody that's driving impaired because of drugs, we arrest them we bring them back to a controlled environment, like an office, and we have our DRE (drug recognition expert) do an evaluation on them."

With recreational pot becoming legal in the coming days, CHP believes officers will have their hands full. 

"We have been seen a trend of DUI-related drug use lately and we expect that trend to continue," Loza said.

Another law has to do with pedestrians and when they can use a crosswalk at certain intersections.

AB390 allows “a pedestrian to begin crossing an intersection while facing a traffic signal displaying a flashing "DON'T WALK" or "Upraised Hand" symbol if the traffic signal includes a countdown timer and the pedestrian can complete the crossing before the traffic signal phases to a steady "DON'T WALK" or "Upraised Hand." The intent of this law is to provide clear standards for pedestrian behavior at intersections controlled by traffic control signals and countdown timers.”

And the final law has to do with people who ride in buses. If the bus is equipped with seat belts, passengers have to use them or face a fine. CHP says if someone is busted, the passenger would face a ticket, not the driver. There are exemptions for school buses and transit buses.

ORIGINAL POST: California Highway Patrol is reminding people about new laws that will be implemented come the new year.

The laws approved by the Legislature in 2017 address many aspects of highway safety including cannabis consumption, seat belts on buses and other issues.

Alcohol and marijuana in vehicles (SB 65, Hill): Smoking or ingesting cannabis while driving or riding in a vehicle is prohibited. This is consistent with current law prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle.

Administration of cannabis laws in California (SB 94, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review): This bill establishes a single system of administration for cannabis laws in California. Among its many provisions is an appropriation of $3 million for the CHP to train state and local law enforcement officers in drug recognition and impairment. SB 94 also prohibits the possession of an open container of cannabis or cannabis product when operating a motor vehicle. An Impaired Driving Task Force, led by the CHP Commissioner, was created to develop recommendations regarding the best practices, protocols, legislation, and policies to address driving under the influence (DUI) of cannabis and controlled substances. Law enforcement anticipates an increase in DUI resulting from the legalization of recreational cannabis. SB 94 went into effect on June 27, 2017.

Pedestrian crossing signals (AB 390, Santiago): This bill permits a pedestrian to begin crossing an intersection while facing a traffic signal displaying a flashing “DON’T WALK” or “Upraised Hand” symbol if the traffic signal includes a countdown timer and the pedestrian can complete the crossing before the traffic signal phases to a steady “DON’T WALK” or “Upraised Hand.” The intent of this law is to provide clear standards for pedestrian behavior at intersections controlled by traffic control signals and countdown timers.

Seat belts on buses (SB 20, Hill): Effective July 1, 2018, the driver and passengers of a tour bus are required to be properly restrained by seat belts if the bus is so equipped. Passengers will be allowed to move about the cabin of the bus to use onboard facilities. The operator of the tour bus will be required to ensure that the seat belts are in good working order and inform passengers of the legal requirement to wear a seat belt. School buses and transit buses are excluded from this bill.


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