Over three million people call Orange County, California home. It is a diverse county, with many cities and cultures. No matter where you live in Orange County, you can agree that it is important to keep our community safe. This article explores some important safety rules that may not be well-known, but are designed to keep us all safe, ultimately avoiding accidents in Orange County.
Highway Lane Use—Slow-Moving Passenger Vehicles
If you are riding a bicycle on the highway, you are deemed to be a “slow-moving passenger vehicle.” This is a change to the previous law. Bicycles, and all slow-moving passenger vehicles, must use the next available turnout (or other similar—but safe—area) to allow traffic to pass when five or more vehicles back-up behind the bicycle, or other slow-moving passenger vehicle. (AB 208.)
Reporting Traffic Collisions and Hit-and-Run Incidents
California law requires that you report a traffic collision that results in bodily injury, death or property damage in excess of $1,000. You must report such a collision to the Department of Motor Vehicles using the SR-1 form. (SB491.)
In the event a motorist fails to report a traffic collision, and law enforcement has information about the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle involved in the hit-and-run incident, law enforcement agencies may issue Yellow Alerts if a person has been killed or seriously injured. Information may be published on digital message signs, and law enforcement is authorized to notify citizens of information identifying the suspect via radio, television, cable and satellite systems. (AB8.)
The law makes it more likely that an individual who flees the scene of a collision will be apprehended. A hit and run is a crime, and may even be a felony punishable by heavy fines and up to four years in prison if you cause serious injury to a person involved in the collision. (Cal. Vehicle Code Sec. 20001.) In short, report! It’s the law.
Although electric bike riders do not need a driver’s license, and need not register the vehicle or obtain license plates, the rider must follow the rules of the road. And, for certain bikes, described under the law as “Class 3 electric bikes,” the rider must be at least 16-years-old. Although not all riders are required to wear a helmet, it is prudent to do so!
A “Class 3 electric bicycle, . . . is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.” Riders of Class 3 electric bikes are required to wear a helmet. (AB1096.)
Electrically Motorized Boards – Electric Skateboards
An “electrically motorized board,” according to California law, is “any wheeled device that has a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding that is not greater than 60 inches deep and 18 inches wide, is designed to transport only one person, and have an electric propulsion system averaging less than 1,000 watts, the maximum speed of which, when powered solely by a propulsion system on a paved level surface, is no more than 20 miles per hour.” (Cal. Vehicle Code Sec. 313.5.)
An electrically motorized board may only be operated by individuals 16 years or older, and who must wear a helmet.
To lawfully ride at night, the board must be equipped with front lights, rear reflectors, and reflectors on each side of the board. (AB604.)
Don’t throw your common sense out the window. First, assess your own safety, and then the safety of your passengers. If you, or anyone else involved in the collision has been injured, seek the proper medical attention immediately.
With the ever-increasing traffic in Orange County, it is not possible to stop all traffic collisions, and it is certainly not possible to control the behavior of every devious motorist. However, you can do your part. Drive safely, and be mindful of pedestrians, bicyclists and skateboarders. If you are going to ride your skateboard or bicycle, especially at night, follow these rules. Be alert, and be safe!