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CHP Highlights New Traffic Laws Beginning In 2021

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The California Highway Patrol is highlighting new traffic laws set to take effect in 2021, with two of them having to do with driver safety.

Effective on January 1, amendments to the current "Move Over, Slow Down" law currently in place for freeways will go into effect. The amendments would expand the law to include local streets and roads so drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights, including tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, must now move to another lane when possible, or slow to a reasonable speed.

A second law targets distracted drivers using cellphones with increased penalties. Currently, talking on a cellphone or texting in a handheld manner while driving - or any use while driving by persons under 18 years old - is punishable by a fine. Beginning on July 1, a second violation of the hands-free law within 36 months will result in a point being added to a driver's record.

Also in January, a new law would exempt people from and civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child who is 6 years old or younger and in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances.

A law that has already gone into effect in September allows emergency vehicles to use a distinctive "Hi-Lo" warning sound, different than a siren, to notify the public of an immediate need to evacuate an area in an emergency. The CHP is currently developing regulations to standardize the Hi-Lo warning sound statewide.

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