4 New California Traffic Safety Laws Taking Effect in 2021

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California drivers should be aware of four new laws that take effect in 2021. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your obligations under these new laws in order to avoid citations or penalties.

At the end of 2020, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) issued a press release that highlighted four new roadway safety laws going into effect in the new year. Drivers throughout California should be aware of these new laws so that they can avoid citations or penalties. Let’s take a look at all four laws and how they may affect you as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.

1. Cracking Down on Distracted Driving

Under current state law, using a phone or handheld device while driving is punishable by a fine. However, if you violate this hands-free law a second time within a 36 month period of a previous conviction for the same offense, a point will be added to your driver’s record. Racking up multiple points within a certain period could lead to the suspension of your driver’s license and other negative consequences. This new law takes effect on July 1, 2021.

2. Encouraging Good Samaritan Behavior

If someone notices an unattended child (under the age of 6) in a vehicle who appears to be in immediate danger from excessive heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other threat, this bystander is exempted from civil and criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle during a rescue attempt. This law is intended to encourage bystanders to take swift and decisive action when they see a child in danger, without fear of legal repercussions. The law went into effect on January 1, 2021.

3. Enhanced Protections for Emergency Personnel

The current “Move Over, Slow Down” law was expanded as of January 1, 2020. Under the provisions of the new law, drivers must slow down or change lanes when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle whose emergency lights are illuminated. While drivers were already compelled to do so on freeways, the new law requires this same behavior on all local streets and roads as well. This law is designed to keep first responders and law enforcement officials safer on all California roadways.

4. New Warning Sounds for California Emergency Vehicles

As of September 29, 2020, authorized emergency vehicles are allowed to use a different “Hi-Lo” warning sound to notify the public of any immediate need to evacuate an area during an emergency. Although the CHP is still attempting to standardize the Hi-Lo warning sound across the state, law enforcement agencies can obtain a permit from CHP to use the Hi-Lo sound. As a driver, be on the lookout for this new warning siren, as it differs from the traditional siren sound.


For more information about staying safe on the Temecula or Murrieta roadways, or to learn more about collecting compensation after an auto accident in Southern California, contact Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation today by calling (951) 489-3320 to speak to a trusted auto accident attorney.

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