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New motor vehicle laws took effect in California on January 1

On January first, a number of new laws affecting California drivers took effect. Most of these laws were enacted in order to prevent motor vehicle accidents, though some simply serve to help state regulators track important initiatives like air quality control and emissions standards. In today’s post, we’ll talk about a few of these changes and how they might affect California drivers in 2014.

First, it is now illegal for motorists under the age of 18 to read, write and send text messages while driving. This is true even if the novice drivers are using hands-free devices to text.

Second, it is now illegal for a relative or revocable trust to inherit and transfer ownership of a vehicle from a deceased person until all toll-violation and parking fines are paid. This is not a safety matter, but it does speak to how serious the California Department of Motor Vehicles is about ensuring that all fines levied are properly paid.

Finally, one important act will not take effect until September 16 of this year, but motorists should begin behaving in accordance with this act now. In an effort to reduce the number of preventable bicycle collisions with vehicles that happen daily across the state, legislators passed the Three Feet for Safety Act. This new law requires motorists who are passing bicyclists traveling in the same direction to give those bicyclists no less than three feet of room upon passing. If it is not at all possible to give a bicyclist this much room, a motorist must slow down and only pass the bicyclist when no danger is present to him or her.

Source: Sierra Sun Times, “California DMV Reminds Motorists of New 2014 Laws,” Dec. 24, 2013

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