by Photo courtesy of California Highway Patrol

The California Highway Patrol highlights some new traffic safety laws going into effect in the new year. The new laws will cover various safety equipment, sideshows, equestrian safety gear, and more. 

The CHP alerted the public in a news release earlier this week about changes that will go into effect beginning Jan.1., with laws that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed. The agency also highlighted a set of laws that will go into effect.

Sideshow Definition and Penalties (Assembly Bill 3)

According to this state law, sideshows are identified as an event in which two or more persons block or impede traffic on a highway for the purpose of performing vehicle stunts, motor speed contests, vehicle exhibitions of speed, or reckless driving for show. This new law aims to strengthen penalties for those convicted of these violations. 

A court will be permitted to suspend a person’s driver’s license for up to six months beginning July 1, 2025, if convicted of speed as a part of a sideshow. According to CHP, the term of suspension will depend on the defendant’s medical, personal, or family hardship. 

Equestrian Safety Gear (AB 974):

A person under the age of 18 riding an equestrian animal such as a horse, mule, or donkey will be required to wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet. Reflective gear or a lamp is required while riding after sundown. 

Individuals are exempt from this law if they are riding an equestrian animal in a parade or festival or crossing a paved highway from an unpaved road.

Tribal Emergency Vehicles (AB 798):

Vehicles owned or operated by a federally recognized Indian tribe are considered an authorized emergency vehicles when responding to an emergency, fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls.

What to expect

Class C Drivers Allowed to Tow Trailer (Senate Bill 287)

Drivers with a Class C driver’s license may operate a vehicle towing a trailer between 10,001 and 15,000 pounds gross vehicle weight beginning Jan.1, 2027. 

Vehicles may have a fifth-wheel and kingpin or bed-mounted gooseneck connection for a trailer used exclusively for recreational purposes to transport property, living space, or both. 

Drivers must pass a specialized written exam demonstrating knowledge of the CVC and other safety aspects relating to the vehicle’s use on highways, possessing and possessing an endorsement on their class C driver’s license.  

Currently, this exemption is for drivers towing a fifth-wheel travel trailer, provided the driver passes a specialized written exam and obtains a recreational trailer endorsement. 

Currently in effect

License Points for Distracted Driving (Assembly Bill 47): 

A hands-free law aimed to prohibit the use of handheld cellphones while driving is currently punishable by a fine. As of July 1, 2021, violating the hands-free law twice within 36 months will result in a point being added to the driver’s record. 

Violations of this law include talking or texting while driving (except for hands-free use) and any use of these devices while driving by a person under 18 years of age.

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