"New Traffic Laws for 2002"
The purpose of this circular is to provide information to Department personnel and community members that will enhance their knowledge and awareness of traffic enforcement and traffic safety issues. The information in this circular can be used for crime prevention meetings, community presentations, and enforcement efforts. This month’s circular will briefly summarize the new legislation that will affect traffic safety and enforcement in the year 2002.
Each year, many new laws related to traffic enforcement issues are enacted. The following are some of the highlights of these laws that will go into effect at midnight on January 1, 2002.
DIVISION 6.7 - UNATTENDED CHILD IN MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY ACT
v Kaitlyn’s Law- Leaving Children Unattended in Cars
Kaitlyn’s Law, introduced under Senate Bill 255, prohibits leaving a child six years of age or under in a motor vehicle if there are conditions that present a risk (i.e., closed windows on a hot day, engine is left running, or if the keys are left in the ignition). A violation can result in a fine of $100, in addition to other fines and/or penalties as allowed by the law. The primary purpose of this law is to prevent injuries to children from the effects of being left alone in a vehicle.
Section 15600 of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) establishes CVC Division 6.7 to be known as Kaitlyn’s Law. Section 15620 CVC is the enforcement section of Kaitlyn’s law.
DIVISION 11 – RULES OF THE ROAD
v Bicycle Paths
Section 21211 CVC is amended to provide that the prohibition to stopping or standing on a bike path does not include the driver or owner of a tow vehicle engaged in the towing of a vehicle.
v Vehicles: Garbage Covers
Section 23115 CVC is amended to provide that no vehicle may transport garbage, including cardboard, among other things, unless the load is totally covered in a manner which will prevent matter from spilling or falling from the vehicle.
Existing Legislation – Updates
DIVISION 12 – EQUIPMENT OF VEHICLES
v Child Passenger Restraints: Requirements: Sections 27360, 27360.5 & 27363 CVC
Section 27360 CVC, which involve child passenger seat restraints (child safety seat or booster seat), was amended. The old requirements mandated that children under four years of age or weighing less than 40 pounds were to be restrained in child safety or booster seats. The amended law now requires a child transported in a vehicle shall be in a passenger restraint system unless the child is either six years of age or older, or weighs 60 pounds or more. Note that both the age and weight requirements must be met for this section to be enforced. The change is meant to close the safety gap for children who have outgrown infant car seats, but are not yet big enough to be protected by adult safety belts. Booster seats are required by law to comply with the same standards and guidelines as child safety seats and conform to all applicable United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Never use a booster seat that has been in a crash, as the seat may have defects that are not visible. Violation of the law will bring fines of $100 for a first offense and $250 thereafter.
Section 27360.5 CVC was also amended. The law now requires that a child transported in a vehicle who weighs more than 60 pounds or who is between six and less than 16 years of age, shall use a safety belt or be in a passenger restraint system which meets applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.
The Los Angeles Police Department will have a 30-day moratorium on the enforcement of these sections, during which time only verbal warnings shall be given. Thereafter, officers will have the discretion whether to give a verbal warning or issue a personal service citation.
Additionally, Section 27363 CVC provides that a child under one year of age may be transported in an emergency vehicle in the case of a life-threatening emergency without a child restraint system.
DIVISION 2 – ADMINISTRATION
v Study: Cellular Telephone and Driver Distraction
Section 2407.5 CVC is added to require any traffic collision report prepared by any peace officer to include information as to whether a cellular telephone or other driver distractions or inattention is a known or suspected associated factor to the cause of the traffic collision.
NOTE: This reporting requirement was discussed in the publication of Department Traffic Coordinator Notices on January 31, 2001 (Traffic Manual Revision No. 27) and June 27, 2001 (Traffic Manual Revision No. 28). These Notices updated Sections 3/373 and 3/376 of the Department Traffic Manual.
DAILY TRAFFIC MISSION
It is responsibility of all drivers and pedestrians to observe all traffic laws as described in the California Vehicle Code; and the daily mission of uniformed officers to ensure the safe movement of traffic and to enforce the Primary Collision Factors that cause traffic collisions. The top five collision factors are all violations of the California Vehicle Code. Therefore, officers should focus their enforcement strategies to reduce those violations, which are:
- Vehicle speed violations,
- Red light violations,
- Right-of-way violations,
- Pedestrians violations, and
- Driving-Under-the-Influence (DUI).
The Combination Effect (Speed, Red Light, and Right-of-Way)
It is important to remember that the five collision factors listed above often work together to create traffic safety hazards.
In recent years, with the availability of technological advantages such as radar devices, law enforcement agencies have made great strides in combating speeding motorists. However, speeding still remains a significant traffic safety problem. Studies have shown that drivers who speed tend to run red lights more than those who do not speed. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of more than 4,500 traffic collisions found that speed was a contributing factor in over 1,300 incidents in which either a red light or left turn violation was the primary cause of the collision. Overall, speeding increases the likelihood of having a traffic collision and actually heightens the severity of the collision itself. It is obvious that speeding combined with additional violations presents a volatile traffic condition.
Pedestrians at Risk
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than 100,000 pedestrians are involved in motor vehicle crashes nationwide each year and, during recent years, more than 5,000 pedestrians per year have died. Collisions involving pedestrians are most likely to occur in urban areas where pedestrian activity is most concentrated. Children are most likely to be struck; however, they are less likely to die than their elderly pedestrian counterparts. Many pedestrian collisions are a result of a pedestrian darting out unexpectedly from the side of the roadway in front of oncoming traffic.
It is common knowledge that alcohol impairment contributes to traffic collisions; however, most people believe that drivers must be "drunk" to be a considered a hazard behind the wheel. The fact is, the probability of a collision increases with any driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than zero, and this probability dramatically increases when a driver’s BAC reaches 0.08 percent. Although a person may appear sober, even if they have consumed any amount of alcohol, their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle has been impaired. Although alcohol-related collisions tend to peak at night and during the weekend, they can and do occur at all hours of the day, and involve individuals from all walks of life.
OFFICER & COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITIES
It is the responsibility of every uniformed officer to enforce violations of the California Vehicle Code, educate citizens on the importance of traffic safety and make every effort to protect drivers on City streets. These efforts, combined with the participation and cooperation of the community, will help ensure the safety of motorists throughout the City.