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Ban On Ear Buds While Operating Bike, Car One Of Several New Laws Taking Effect In 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- California is adding some new driving laws in the new year aimed at improving safety for child passengers, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

Some of the new regulations are clarifications to existing laws and further define the rules of the road for drivers, including SB 491, which clarifies rules regarding headphones or headsets by explicitly prohibiting the wearing of earbuds in both ears while operating a vehicle or bicycle.

"One earbud is fine," Concord Police Cpl. Chris Blakely told KPIX 5's Joe Vazquez.

Blakely says the ticket could cost about $160 after court fees.

Popular "hoverboards" or electric motorized boards are at the center of one of the new laws, Assembly Bill 604, which mandates that the rider of the board be age 16 or above and requires the rider to wear a helmet.

The boards can be operated at speeds of up to 15 mph on sidewalks, paths or trails, with a speed limit of no more than 35 mph. The new law states local governments and other agencies can enact further regulations restricting use of the boards in public.

Two of the new laws—child safety seats and reporting traffic crashes—will become active in 2016, but won't actually take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, since it takes about a year for agencies to adhere to the new modifications.

The child safety seat law, Assembly Bill 53, requires children 2 years old to be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians. Only children under 1 were required to ride rear-facing previously. The law provides exemptions for children over 40 pounds or 40 inches tall.

Senate Bill 491 raises the threshold for when any motorist involved in a crash is required to report it to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Drivers will have to report it when an injury occurs or when there is property damage above $1,000, more than the $750 amount mentioned in current law.

For a complete list of laws taking effect in the new year, drivers can go to

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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