Four new laws, effective on January 1, 2024, will impact safety on California roads for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and electric bicycle (e-bike) riders.
- AB 2537 calls for changes in driver education curricula in grades 7-12 and requires the DMV to create a video regarding proper conduct for peace officers during a traffic stop.
- AB 2773 requires peace officers to inform drivers why they are being pulled over.
- AB 2147 limits the circumstances when a pedestrian can be stopped for jaywalking.
- AB 1909 alters laws regarding e-bikes and where they are allowed to operate.
Provisions in these laws will have positive effects on public safety. New standards for driver education should make our roads and highways safer. And there are measures to protect cyclists. However, the new laws may also have negative consequences.
Expanding areas where powerful Class 3 e-bikes are allowed to travel may cause an increase in injuries suffered by pedestrians and cyclists. Loosening enforcement of jaywalking laws could also impact public safety.
Driver Education and Police Conduct During Traffic and Pedestrian Stops
AB 2537 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson requires the California Department of Justice to develop a video demonstrating proper conduct by a peace officer during traffic stops. This video must be posted on the DMV website. When a person searches the DMV website for application forms for new, duplicate, and renewed licenses, they will be informed about the video and where they can find it.
The law also includes provisions regarding driver education. School courses will cover the rights and duties of motorists and pedestrians. Students will consider how these rights and duties pertain to traffic laws and safety.
The bill also requires viewing the Department of Justice video on the proper conduct during traffic stops as part of a course of driver education.
Areas of emphasis in driver education curricula will include:
- Dangers of driving after consuming drugs or alcohol
- Examination of driver attitudes and motivation
- Reducing driving violations
- Exploring causes of aggressive driving
AB 2773 by Assemblymember Chris Holden requires peace officers to state reason the for a traffic stop as indicated by the California DMV driver’s handbook before the officer asks the driver any investigatory questions. Peace officers will also be required to document the reason for all traffic stops.
AB 2147 by Assemblymember Phil Ting prohibits a peace officer from stopping a pedestrian for jaywalking unless a reasonably careful person would realize that there is an immediate danger of a crash occurring. The Highway Patrol will submit a report to the legislature by 2028 on how changes made by this law have impacted pedestrian safety.
E-Bike and Bicycle Safety
AB 1909 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman has several provisions that will affect where e-bikes are allowed to go and how e-bike riders must conduct themselves.
There are three classes of e-bike:
- Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes have a maximum speed of 20mph.
- Class 3 e-bikes have a maximum speed of 28mph.
The new law allows local authorities or the Department of Parks and Recreation to permit or prohibit any type of e-bike on any bicycle path or trail under their authority. This includes:
- Bike paths
- Equestrian trails
- Hiking trails
- Recreational trails
To protect cyclists, the new law requires people traveling on e-bikes to afford bicycle riders at least three feet of space when an e-bike passes a bicycle that’s heading in the same direction.
The law also requires motorists to change lanes when passing a bicycle if the adjacent lane is free of traffic.
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