Dominating the west coast of the United States, California’s beaches, national forests and Hollywood stardom continue to make it one of the most visited states in the U.S. Driving the length of California can take a full 17 hours, and the famous Route 1’s beaches and ocean-front ciffs make the hours fly by. Home to several of the nation’s most populated cities, driving in urban California can be stressful and hazardous. This list of useful information for drivers has been compiled by CheapCarInsurance.net to help drivers enjoy their driving experience in the 49er state.
Average Car Insurance Premiums.
Census.gov shows a mixed relationship between the national average and California’s insurance premiums. While currently both average premiums and average premiums as a percentage of income are below the national average, the past several years reveal a varied change.
Drunk Driving Fatalities
Drunk driving fatalities in California indicate a flat trend compared to the national average. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that California continues to widen the gap by falling farther below the national average.
Vehicular Theft in California
Vehicle thefts in California were nearly double the national average, according to an annual study conducted by the FBI. California’s number is on the rise even at 443, and the national average shows a slight decline at 229.
California hosts an increasingly wide variety of ethnic groups and peoples. The differing languages and cultures reflect the sometimes confusing blend of insurance laws and regulations. To help sort through the information, the following list covers the important key points.
Minimum Requirements for Car Insurance in California
- California drivers must be insured with a minimum liability insurance plan according to the California State Insurance Department.
- California Liability Coverage minimums include:
- $15,000 for an accident involving the death or injury of a single person.
- $30,000 for an accident involving the death or injury of multiple people.
- $5,000 for an accident involving property damage.
- Failure to provide proof of insurance can result in vehicle impoundment, suspension of registration and/or suspension of drivers license.
New Driver Licensing Requirements
All drivers, and all residents who have lived in California for more than 10 days, are required to have a valid drivers license. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) outlines three tests that must be passed to obtain a regular California drivers license.
- Vision Test. To pass the vision test, an applicant must be determined to have a vision accuity of 20/40 or greater. If the applicant fails, certain circumstances allow a referral to an eye specialist to be prescribed corrective lenses.
- Written Test. The written test consists of 30 questions pertaining to traffic signs and laws. The California DMV provides a practice test which can be accessed at www.dmv.ca.gov. Upon successful completion of the written and vision tests, the DMV will issue the applicant a permit to allow him/her to practice driving. While driving with the permit, the applicant must be accompanied by a licensed driver age 18 years or older.
- Road Test. To successully be admitted to the road test, the applicant’s vehicle must be in proper driving order and meet the necessary requirements listed on the California DMV’s website. The test administrator will evaluate the driver in the following areas:
- Safely starting the vehicle
- Moving forward
- Changing lanes
- Freeway driving
- Defensive driving
- Pay a License Fee. A $30 fee is assessed for a new driver and a renewal application.
- Drivers Under the Age of 18. Applicants between the ages of 15 1/2 years and under 18 can obtain a provisional permit. The California DMV requires a parent or guardian signature on the application. To take the road test, the applicant must not only have passed the vision and written tests, they must have held their permit for 6 months, have completed a driver education course, have completed 6 hours of professional driving training and completed 50 hours of driving training with a licensed driver 25 years of age or older. This must include 10 hours of night driving.
- BAC limit: .08 California DUI convictions remain on a driver’s record for 10 years, and each offense results in a suspension of the driver’s license effective 30 days after the initial violation.
- License suspension of 1 year on the first offense and each subsequent offense is a deterrent to drunk driving. In addition to the re-instatement fees, California law enforces severe penalties that vary according to the seriousness of the offense.
- California’s Zero Tolerance Law targets drivers under 21 years of age. Under this law, the first offense will result in a 1 year license revocation, completion of DUI school and multiple fines.
- There is a drivers license re-issue fee for all drivers involved in DUI. For a list of the fees visit the California DMV’s fees page on their website.
Texting & Driving Laws
Distraction.gov reports that all drivers are banned from handheld devices and from texting. Additionally, all cell phone use is banned for novice drivers and bus drivers.
While enjoying your fun-filled vacation in California, keeping in mind a few interesting laws will keep you out of trouble. For instance, in Hermosa Beach, it is illegal to spill your margarita on the roadway. It is also illegal to use the roadway for a bed in Eureka, and it is strictly prohibited to plant rutabagas in the road in Chico!