New California Traffic Safety Laws For 2024: Speed Cameras, Cruising, Crosswalks, Bike Signals, More
Each year California’s governor signs hundreds of bills into law, and this year several new laws focus on roadway and traffic safety. Here are several significant laws regarding driving and safety going into effect soon in California — most go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
SPEED CAMERAS (AB 645)
This law would authorize speed cameras on roadways in six selected cities — Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose — and send citations to speeding motorists without the presence of law enforcement for the first time in California history.
The cities may use up to 33 cameras to enforce speed limits in school zones, designated “safety corridors,” high-injury intersections, and known street racing corridors, and will issue automatic tickets for drivers going at least 11 mph over the speed limit. Civil penalties would be $50, $100, $200 or $500 for exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph, 16 mph, 26 mph and over 100 mph. Money from citations would be used to pay for the speed cameras, and any leftover funds would be put into traffic calming measures, not into a city’s general fund.
The law requires cities to put up signage warning drivers they could get a ticket if they don’t slow down before approaching the speed camera.
The bill is included in a report from the California State Transportation Agency’s “Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force,” which found that studies show roadway systems that try to slow down drivers “are an effective countermeasure to speeding” if they use cameras that automatically snap a picture of the car’s license plate and deliver a citation to the registered owner through the mail.
Many of these cities have seen dramatic increases in traffic fatalities caused by speeders, and also caused by street takeovers and illegal street racing. From 2005 to 2014, 112,580 Americans were killed in traffic collisions in which speeding was a factor, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Pedestrian deaths have increased 77% from 2010 to 2021 in the United States, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association study. Los Angeles had 312 traffic fatalities in 2022 — a record.
Speed cameras in 140 other communities are credited with reducing traffic collisions and resulting fatalities. In Scottsdale, Arizona and Portland, Oregon, traffic fatalities have fallen 54% since the cameras were instituted. In Washington D.C, traffic fatalities decreased by 70%. In New York City, a 73% drop in speeding is attributed to speed cameras.
Supporters of the bill argue the cameras will help in multiple ways. They aim to deter speeding, which contributes to fatal collisions involving drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. And the cameras provide a color-blind enforcement mechanism that won’t target drivers based on skin color or other arbitrary factors. Some opponents argue the fines levied by the cameras will hit drivers of color the hardest. Others are worried about the privacy implications posed by installing more cameras to keep tabs on citizens.
Learn more about speed cameras and this new law at a previous Chain | Cohn | Clark blog post: “New California Bills Introduce Speed Cameras, Restrict Self-Driving Trucks, Make Bike-Friendly Code Changes”.
CRUISING (AB 436)
This new law signed in October lifts the restrictions on lowrider cruising statewide and rescinds the ability of cities and towns to impose their own cruising bans. The previous law had been in place since 1988 and allowed police to stop cars that have tires below a certain size, and stop vehicles that have been lowered under a certain height.
The resolution encourages cities to repeal their bans and recognizes that cruising holds cultural significance for many communities. One in particular being Chicano communities – where the tradition of lowriding began in California during the post-World War II era. The movement was seen as a form of cultural and political expression. Those who supported the 1988 law said the ban has improved public safety, while critics of the initial law called it outdated, racist, and that it targeted Latinos.
EXPIRED LICENSE PLATE TAG (AB 256)
The law will prohibit an officer from pulling over a vehicle solely based on the expired stickers on the back license plate unless two months have passed since the month stated on the sticker. For example, if a registration expires in July, the vehicle would not be able to be stopped solely for the expired sticker until October. These vehicles can still be stopped if they commit any other violations. This law will go into effect on July 1.
BICYCLE LANE CITATIONS (AB 361)
This law will allow local agencies to install cameras on vehicles used to enforce parking rules and use the images recorded to issue a parking citation to vehicles illegally parked in bike lanes.
CROSSWALKS (AB 413)
This law will prohibit vehicles from stopping, standing or parking within 20 feet of unmarked or marked crosswalks, or 15 feet from crosswalks that extend from a “bulbout,” a stretch of sidewalk that juts out into the road. The law’s author said this was created as a means of reducing crashes with pedestrians and to allow pedestrians to see oncoming traffic as they cross a roadway. Drivers will only get warnings for now, but citations can be issued starting in 2025.
BIKE SIGNALS (AB 1909)
This law has been in effect for a year but starting on Jan. 1, 2024 a provision takes effect that allows bicyclists to cross a street when a pedestrian signal is activated instead of waiting for a green light.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.