New laws approved by the California State Legislature will go into effect Jan. 1 to address aspects of highway safety, including cannabis consumption, seat belts on buses, and other issues.
Under SB 65 (Hill), smoking or ingesting cannabis while driving or riding in a vehicle is prohibited. This is consistent with current law prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
Administration of cannabis laws in California (SB 94).
Senate Bill 94, which went into effect on June 27, establishes a single system of administration for cannabis laws in California. Among its many provisions is an appropriation of $3 million for the CHP to train state and local law enforcement officers in drug recognition and impairment.
SB 94 also prohibits the possession of an open container of cannabis or cannabis product when operating a vehicle. An Impaired Driving Task Force, led by the CHP Commissioner, was created to develop recommendations regarding the best practices, protocols, legislation, and policies to address driving under the influence (DUI) of cannabis and controlled substances. Law enforcement anticipates an increase in DUI arrests resulting from the legalization of recreational cannabis.
Pedestrian crossing signals
AB 390 (Santiago) permits a pedestrian to begin crossing an intersection while facing a traffic signal displaying a flashing "DON'T WALK" or "Upraised Hand" symbol if the traffic signal includes a countdown timer and the pedestrian can complete the crossing before the traffic signal phases to a steady "DON'T WALK" or "Upraised Hand." The law is intended to provide clear standards for pedestrian behavior at intersections controlled by traffic control signals and countdown timers.
Seat belts on buses
Under SB 20, (authored by Hill) effective July 1, 2018, the driver and passengers of a tour bus are required to be properly restrained by seat belts if the bus is so equipped. Passengers will be allowed to move about the cabin of the bus to use onboard facilities. Operators of any tour bus will be required to ensure that the seat belts are in good working order and inform passengers of the legal requirement to wear a seat belt.
School buses and municipal transit buses are excluded from this bill.