Posts Tagged ‘California’
February 19th, 2013
Thinking of picking up an electric car, plug-in hybrid or other alternative-fuel vehicle? If you’re in California, this applies to you: the CA State Legislature will soon vote on a bill to extend solo access to the state’s large network of carpool HOV lanes for these clean-driving vehicles through 2025.
Though the old Yellow Clean Air Vehicle stickers for hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius have expired, California motorists are now eligible for either Green or White Clean Air Vehicle stickers. The green ones are for plug-in hybrids (Prius Plug-In) and range-extending EVs (Fisker Karma), while the white stickers apply to battery-electrics (Ford Focus Electric), as well as natural gas (Honda Civic Natural Gas) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (Honda FCX Clarity). Both programs are currently slated to expire in 2015.
If the vote passes, the alt-car incentive program will go forward through Jan. 1, 2025. Here is a list of all cars eligible for CA carpool solo access.
January 21st, 2013
Among the myriad of small changes to laws around the country going into effect Jan. 1, 2013, Californians can now legally text while driving… if they are using hands-free device, that is.
Changes to the vehicle code allow you to use your phone or in-car infotainment system’s voice-to-text feature to send and receive texts and emails while driving, as long as you’re not actually typing them out.
From Section 23123.5 of the CA DMV Vehicle Code, with the new-for-2013 exceptions in bold:
(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving.
(c) For purposes of this section, a person shall not be deemed to be writing, reading, or sending a text-based communication if the person reads, selects, or enters a telephone number or name in an electronic wireless communications device for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call or if a person otherwise activates or deactivates a feature or function on an electronic wireless communications device.
The phrases “specifically designed and configured” and “activates or deactivates a feature” seem to leave open some room for interpretation, or the discretion of the officer, but be smart: if you must text, use your phone’s or car’s voice-activated features. Better still, get to a safe place to pull over, conclude your business, and be on your way.
January 4th, 2013
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has put in to motion a plan to offer vintage-reissue “legacy” license plates using classic designs from the 1950s through the 1980s.
The black-on-yellow license plates were in circulation from 1956 to 1962, the yellow-on-black from 1963 to 1969, and the yellow-on-blue plates from 1970 to 1982. For a personalized plate fee of $50, the CA DMV is now taking pre-orders for any of the three classic designs, allowing for a period-correct look for your classic ride without going through the cost and bureaucratic hoops of finding and obtaining approval for old-stock plates.
If the Department receives 7,500 pre-orders by Jan. 1, 2015, the retro plates will be issued for $50 in addition to the cost of registration. Renewing registration will cost an extra $40. If the 7,500-unit target is not met, all who pre-ordered will receive a refund, and the plates will not be printed.
The program has raised some eyebrows from die-hard classic car enthusiasts, who maintain that only a true “California car” in continuous circulation should have the right to display classic CA plates. Still, a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang with modern red-on-white plates just doesn’t look right, so consider us on-board. Here’s a little history on California license plates from the CA DMV.
September 28th, 2012
The I-405S Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, better known to Southern Californians as Carmageddon, will force the complete closure of I-405 in both directions once again this weekend between U.S. 101 to the North and I-10 to the South. Last year’s Carmaggedon, when crews of workers demolished half of the Mulholland Bridge that now spans the 405, was much less of a disaster than expected as motorists largely heeded advice to stay off West Los Angeles roads entirely.
- On-ramp and off-ramp closures within the corridor will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012
- 10-mile stretch of 405 closed by midnight Friday, Sept. 28, 2012
- 405 will reopen to traffic once again at 5:00 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 1 , 2012
- All Ramps and Connectors open by 6 a.m on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012
Although last year’s crews actually finished far ahead of schedule, there’s a lot more demolition work to be done this time around and the full timetable is expected. If you must travel in Los Angeles this weekend, we recommend taking the Metro. Highway traffic will be rerouted toward Downtown Los Angeles where the 10 and 101 freeways meet.
For local connection surface street routes, try the Waze smartphone app for Android and iPhone for up-to-the-second crowd-sourced info on traffic patterns and alternate routes. But be prepared to get real friendly with your car’s stereo system.
July 2nd, 2012
A new State of California bill is now in effect that raises vehicle documentation fees charged by dealers on every new and used car purchase or lease. For new and used vehicle purchases, that mandatory fee now goes up to $80 (from $55), while leased vehicles will also bring $80 in documentation fees, up from $45.
While no one likes an increase in fees, California Bill AB 1215 (full text here) also includes a couple of key new consumer protections. First, dealers are now required to submit new or used vehicle registrations electronically at the time of purchase. This means you’ll be protected from fraud, and get your license plates and tags sooner.
More importantly, the bill introduces a new system for easy consumer identification of cars carrying salvage or other types of “branded titles,” given to cars that have been heavily damaged by collision or natural disaster, junked or returned under lemon laws. All used car dealers are now required to check each vehicle in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.
Any car offered for sale in California state with a salvage or branded title will now display a red window sticker (above), warning consumers of its title status. Seeing wide support from law enforcement agencies and consumer groups, the new bill goes a long way toward consumer peace of mind, despite the fee increase.