Governor Gavin Newsom has made decisions regarding two bills with the potential of altering the number of traffic accidents on California’s roads.
On October 13, Newsom signed AB 645 into law. The bill will allow for speed cameras to be placed in six California cities: San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Long Beach, Glendale and Los Angeles. The cameras will be intended to catch drivers who are exceeding the speed limit in “safety corridors” and school zones in the six cities.
On September 22, Newsom vetoed AB 316. The bill would have required that self-driving trucks have human drivers behind a wheel.
The passage of AB 645 may improve traffic safety and reduce traffic deaths in California, whereas the veto of AB 316 could potentially lead to traffic collisions occurring when self-driving cars malfunction.
Speed Safety Cameras – Speed Camera California Bill
Until now, it was illegal in California for speeding drivers to be given speeding tickets based on speed cameras. AB 645, for the first time, makes the use of speed camera in California legal, allowing for traffic enforcement to issue a speeding driver a speeding ticket after catching them speeding with a speed camera.
4,285 traffic fatalities occurred in California in 2021. This included 1,233 cyclist and pedestrian deaths. Out of the 2,652 fatal crashes in Los Angeles from 2012 to 2021, the primary crash factor violation was speeding in 575 of them, or 21.77 of them, according to California Highway Patrol data.
The bill’s supporters say the cameras will protect California drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians by encouraging drivers to obey the posted speed limit. Opponents of the bill argued cameras can collect personal data which can be misused or stolen, and that people of color and low income communities are impacted the most by speeding tickets.
The cameras will be allowed for a five year long pilot program. The cameras will be allowed to be placed in school zones, popular street racing areas and roads with large numbers of fatal crashes. Cameras take photos of license plates and drivers will need to exceed the speed limit by 11 MPH or more to receive a ticket. The fines will be:
- $50 for traveling 11-15 MPH over the limit
- $100 for traveling 16-25 MPH over the limit
- $200 for traveling 26-99 MPH over the limit
- $500 for traveling 100 MPH or more over the limit
The first citation will be a warning and low-income drivers will receive a discount of 80 percent.
Self-Driving Truck Restrictions
AB 316 would have required human drivers to be on board self-driving trucks which weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Supporters claimed that the bill would lead to safer streets by preventing accidents such as the one which occurred when a robotaxi rear-ended a bus in San Francisco on March 23. Supporters of the bill also claimed the bill would preserve hundreds of thousands of workers’ jobs in California.
Newsom, in a statement, said the bill was unnecessary since existing laws are enough to prevent truck accidents.
Newsom noted that 2012 legislation allows California’s DMV to work with the CHP, NHTSA and other groups to determine what regulations are necessary for autonomous vehicles to safely operate on California’s roads.
The bill’s opponents claimed that autonomous vehicles already on California’s roads cause less accidents than vehicles driven by humans, and businesses argued that autonomous trucks would allow them to move their products with more efficiency.
Another California bill, AB 1909, the OmniBike Bill, was signed into law on September 16 by Governor Newsom.
Bicycle accidents are a common occurrence in California. The City of Los Angeles saw 18,486 traffic accidents involving bicycles from 2012 through 2021.
The bill makes four changes to the vehicle code of California:
Changing Lanes For Passing
AB 1909 will mandate that those driving motor vehicles change lanes whenever passing a bicyclist whenever it is feasible. Prior to the passing of AB 1909, California drivers had to give bicyclists three feet of space when passing them. This change is intended to reduce collisions and near misses, and is intended to make instructions clearer so it is easier for motor vehicle drivers to safely pass bicycles.
E-Bicycles Allowed On Most Bikeways
Electric bikes are becoming more popular in California. However, certain municipalities have attempted to limit where they are allowed. AB 1909 allows for e-bicycles to be used on most bikeways. It still allows communities, however, to ban them from hiking trails and equestrian trails.
Bicyclists Allowed To Cross Crosswalks On Walk Signals
California bicyclists will now be allowed to cross intersections during pedestrian walk signals if the walk signal phase differs from vehicles’ green lights, allowing cyclists to choose this safe choice.
An End To Enforcement Of Bicycle Licensing Laws
AB 1909 will stop enforcement of laws regarding bicycle licensing in California. Some cities have laws mandating that people register bicycles and obtain licenses. Supporters of the bill claimed that these laws are used to harass cyclists of color.
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