New Road Laws in Sacramento to Reflect Today’s Drivers

The art of effective legislation reflects our ever-changing values and culture when done well. This idea has been exemplified within the past decade with a series of laws passed in Sacramento that affects drivers across California. Beginning in 2003, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature began creating and editing new road laws and restrictions to reflect the current state of technology and driving in California. Together, this set of road laws addresses the use of video monitors and traffic cameras, child safety regulations and teenage driver stipulations, and marries environmental awareness with public safety.

The digital entertainment industry has made astounding leaps and bounds in technology in the last twenty years, now making it more convenient than ever to watch whatever you want wherever you want, as long as you have a screen. Previously, nothing but common sense was stopping most drivers from watching movies on small DVD players or typing on their laptops while winding their way through traffic. However, some of these laws were finally passed banning any sort of video monitors in the front seat, with the exception of phones and GPS devices. Videos monitors weren’t the only piece of technology addressed in some of the nearly 100 laws passed since 2003. Provisions were written to keep any private companies operating the red-light cameras from making money per ticket, thereby addressing public concerns that the cameras were only being used to issue as many tickets as possible and not to ensure safety at intersections. Police officers also now review each ticket before issue as well.

Children and teenagers were also affected by some of the new road laws. Child safety seats can no longer be placed in the front seat, but must be secured in one of the back seats. Children who are younger than 6 years old or weigh less than 60 pounds are now required by law to be placed in a safety seat, but as soon as they are big enough to not require the booster seat then they can sit up front in the passenger seat. A few of these new road laws especially affected teenage driving regulations, now requiring them to receive Driver’s Education training before being issued a learner’s permit. Furthermore, the issuing of learner’s permits was extended from 15 years of age to 15 and a half years, now only giving them six months to receive their 56 hours of supervised practice before receiving their license at 16 years old. Many teenagers, parents, and driving instructors alike have become worried that teens won’t be able to find enough time for that practice before their sixteenth birthday. Legislators, however, are hoping this creates much more experience and safe teenagers behind the wheel.

Another highlight of the new set of laws passed allows police officers to test vehicles for standard emissions during routine drunk-driving stops and checkpoints. If someone is pulled over after a few drinks and driving an environmentally irresponsible car, then he or she now has two problems to worry about from the officer walking up to their window! Stricter environmental regulations are becoming imposed nationwide, and this new provision will hopefully force motorists to be more responsible for both personal safety and society as a whole. Other than the laws mentioned, many more address further use of technology behind the wheel and environmental and traffic regulations. Many other states have also begun to review road rules and legislation, and even some federal laws are being looked at since many haven’t changed since long before the invention of the internet. Still, effective laws reflect they society they serve, so new road rules are sure to keep coming with each new decade they regulate.


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