In 2014, the California State Legislature approved a number of new laws of interest to motorists, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. Unless otherwise noted, these measures take effect January 1, 2015.
AB 60 was passed in 2013, but takes effect Jan. 1. It requires the DMV to issue driver’s licenses to persons who are ineligible for a Social Security number if additional documentation regarding identity and residence is provided. A driver’s license issued under these circumstances will include a notice that it is not accepted for official federal identification (such as at airport security) or other purposes. SB 1273 enacted in 2014 will enable some of these new drivers to qualify for the state’s “low cost” auto insurance program.
Road Funding. Senate Bill 1077 requires the California Transportation Commission to create a “road usage charge” technical committee. The group will develop a pilot program to explore charging motorists based on the distance they drive rather than on the amount of gasoline they purchase. The current tax on motor vehicle fuels pays for road construction and maintenance, as well as some mass transit projects. However, as vehicles become more fuel efficient and motorists turn to electric and other alternatively fueled vehicles, fuel-tax revenues cannot keep up with needed road and other transportation improvements.
A number of states are studying possible new funding mechanisms, such as charging per mile instead of per gallon. The Auto Club has recommended that the new committee consider how mileage information would be collected, how privacy concerns may be addressed, the cost of implementing a new system, how much to charge motorists, and how to spend the money collected. An Auto Club representative has been appointed to the committee. The pilot program must be implemented and completed by January 1, 2017, with an evaluation study to be done by June 30, 2018.
Ridesharing Services. Assembly Bill 2293 requires that “transportation network companies,” such as Uber and Lyft, and their drivers buy insurance to cover them when they are transporting passengers and when drivers are logged on to their computer dispatching program and ready to accept riders. The Auto Club supported the law to assure protection for passengers and other road users because most personal auto insurance policies do not cover drivers while engaged in a ridesharing business. The new requirement takes effect July 1, 2015.
Carpool Lane Stickers. AB 2013 increases the number of advanced-technology partial zero-emission vehicles that are allowed to use carpool (or “HOV,” high-occupancy vehicle) lanes from 55,000 to 70,000 without meeting HOV lane vehicle-occupancy requirements (generally two or three people per car). Vehicles eligible for these “green stickers” include plug-in hybrid vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, and Toyota Prius Plug-In. A complete list of eligible vehicles can be found on the California Air Resources Board website, arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm.