The California Department of Motor Vehicles lists several laws for motorists taking effect in 2014.
Drivers younger than 18 years old had to give up their mobile devices — even the hands-free variety — starting Wednesday, Jan. 1, under SB 194.
State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, authored the law, which prohibits minors from using any type of wireless communication device while driving.
Tracy Police Department neighborhood resource officer Scott Muir said some young drivers tried to get around the existing texting law by using wireless tablets instead of cellphones behind the wheel.
He said the new law keeps all such devices — including laptops, tablets and other texting gadgets — out of the hands of teen drivers.
“A lot has to do with the technology — kids are getting acclimated to the technology sooner,” Muir said. “It’s more distractions for younger drivers.”
Muir said the department hopes the new law will help keep drivers’ attention focused on the road.
“Texting is much worse than talking on the phone,” Muir said. “When you’re texting, your eyes are off the road, and all it takes is a split second for an accident to occur.”
Muir said citations for driving and texting can carry a $76 fee for a first offense and $190 for further offenses.
Bicyclists will get more room on the road when AB 1371 — called the Three Feet for Safety Act — goes into effect in September.
According to the new law, drivers heading in the same direction as a bicyclist must keep 3 feet between any part of the vehicle and the bicycle when passing, or must slow to a safe speed to complete the pass. Failure to keep the distance can result in a traffic fine.
A 2010 California Office of Traffic Safety report ranked Tracy 17th worst, among 103 cities of similar size, for bicycle safety. The report cited seven incidents that resulted in injuries.
Muir said the majority of bicycle accidents in Tracy take place in crosswalks and intersections, where people often do not pay attention to cyclists, but he thinks the new law may help.
“It will be a good thing for bicyclists,” he said. “It’s another safety mechanism to increase awareness on the road.”
The following laws also take effect in 2014:
• The Clean Air Vehicles Decals and High Occupancy Vehicle Stickers laws, AB 266 and AB 286, together extend the end date for low-emission and zero-emission cars to use high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, even without the required number of riders, to January 2019.
• DMV Vehicle Registration Pilot Program
SB 806 establishes a test program to replace metal license plates and physical registration tags and cards with electronic license plates and other electronic registration methods.
• Veterans License Plates AB 244 requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to sponsor a veterans license plate, but 7,500 prepaid applications for the specialty plate must be received before the law goes into effect.
• Registration and Vehicle Transfers Between Family Members AB 443 prevents the transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle to a relative or living trust until all parking and toll fines are paid.
• Commercial Driver’s License AB 1047 will allow the California Department of Motor vehicles to give a commercial driving test to a driver who has an out-of-state learner’s permit. It also changes the license class requirements so that the driver of a bus weighing more than 26,000 pounds needs a commercial Class B license and the driver of any bus 26,000 pounds or lighter needs a commercial Class C license.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.