NEW DRIVERS GUIDE TO SACRAMENTO

Becoming a new driver is a significant milestone. Being able to drive offers a sense of freedom and independence because you no longer have to rely on others for transportation. 

Being a new driver also involves new responsibilities. Millions of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) account for billions of dollars in economic damages in the U.S. each year. Complying with traffic laws and practicing safe driving improves road safety and increases your chances of avoiding car accidents. 

Familiarity with local traffic laws helps new drivers make safe, responsible driving decisions. It also ensures you know how to respond if you’re in an MVA and how a car accident attorney can help. 

If you have been injured in a car accident, Sette Law is here for you.

SAFE DRIVING COMES FIRST

Safe driving habits are crucial for new drivers who want to avoid traffic accidents and enjoy low insurance rates. Safe driving begins with knowing and obeying local traffic laws. 

SACRAMENTO’S DRIVING LAWS

You must carry a valid driver’s license with you when driving in Sacramento or elsewhere in California. 

You should also be familiar with the following driving laws:

  • At-fault (or tort) state: At-fault states determine who was responsible for a car accident, and the at-fault party is liable. No-fault states require individuals to carry insurance to cover some medical and property damage costs and use their insurance for their costs, even if they weren’t responsible for an accident. California is an at-fault state. Consequently, investigators move quickly to assign fault for an accident, and the at-fault party’s insurance company can be held responsible for paying for property damage costs, medical bills, and other damages. 
  • Driving age: California allows minors 16 years or older to get a driver’s license as long as they have permission from a parent or guardian, complete the identification and driver’s license forms, and pass their driver’s tests, including a written test verifying their knowledge about traffic laws and a practical driving test. Minors must also complete 50 driving practice hours, including no less than ten nighttime practice driving hours, before they can get their license. 
  • Phones: California law limits adult drivers to hands-free use of electronic devices, including phones. Giving a GPS device or phone verbal instructions is legal, but you cannot hold the device while doing so. Drivers 17 and under may not use phones under any circumstances.
  • Pedestrians: Roadways may have marked or unmarked crosswalks. Unless a sign prohibits pedestrians from crossing at a specific location, pedestrians have the right of way. 
  • Motorcycles: New drivers can obtain a motorcycle license at 16 if they meet the licensing requirements. Motorcyclists must follow all traffic laws that apply to other vehicles. 
  • Self-driving cars: People can use self-driving cars in California if the vehicle meets the state’s regulations and the owner secures the proper permits
  • Passenger restrictions: New drivers cannot transport passengers 19 or younger for the first year that they have their license
  • Time restrictions: California law prohibits new drivers from operating vehicles on roadways between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

COMMON ISSUES AFFECTING DRIVER SAFETY AND CAUSING CAR ACCIDENTS

Both preventable and unavoidable issues affect driver safety and increase the risk of MVAs. Some of the most common issues causing car accidents include the following:

  • Weather: Every driver contends with weather conditions that affect roadways and visibility. While bad weather is inevitable, how you respond as a driver makes it possible to reduce your chances of a weather-related accident. Check weather reports before you get behind the wheel. Stay off roadways when weather conditions are severe. If you must drive during bad weather, avoid areas prone to flooding or other issues that could compromise your driving safety.
  • Speed: Speeding is one of the leading causes of MVAs and accounts for 29% of fatal car crashes. Obeying posted speed limits ensures you have enough time to respond to changes in road conditions, which can prevent an accident.
  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving is an umbrella term encompassing anything that makes a driver take their hands off the steering wheel or their eyes or mind off the road. Common distractions include passengers, eating, and drinking.
  • Failure to yield or stop: Motorists must slow down at yield signs. Stop signs and red lights require motorists to come to a complete stop. Despite these laws, many motorists fail to yield or stop, causing them to collide with oncoming traffic, bicyclists, or pedestrians. 
  • Impaired driving: Alcohol, drugs, and prescription medications impair your ability to respond to road conditions and make sound driving decisions. Driving while impaired means driving under the influence of these substances. Impaired driving causes more than one-third of fatal car accidents annually.
  • Misjudging distances: Misjudging distances can lead to following vehicles too closely, cutting vehicles off when changing lanes, or striking parked or moving vehicles
  • Driver fatigue: You’re more likely to be in an accident if you’re affected by driver fatigue because you can’t wholly concentrate when you’re tired. This is one of the reasons new drivers aren’t allowed to drive late at night.
  • driver fatigueRoad rage: Drivers affected by road rage cause many accidents each year. Road rage prompts drivers to engage in unsafe behaviors, such as cutting off vehicles. 
  • Following too closely: Drivers may follow too closely because they’re distracted and aren’t paying attention to other vehicles, or they’re inexperienced and don’t realize they need to keep more space between vehicles. Some drivers follow too closely because of road rage. These drivers deliberately tailgate other drivers to frighten those drivers or motivate them to change their driving habits. Following other vehicles too closely reduces the time you have to stop or change lanes if the vehicle in front of you comes to a stop. 

NAVIGATING SACRAMENTO

Every city has dangerous roads and intersections where car accidents are more likely to occur. Reasons for the increased risk of an MVA can include reduced visibility, hills or straight stretches where people are more likely to speed, or complex traffic patterns that confuse drivers. You can promote safe driving in Sacramento by familiarizing yourself with major highways in the area and the dangerous roads and intersections so you know how to navigate those roadways.

MAJOR HIGHWAYS

Motorists may use the following major highways in the Sacramento area:

  • California 16
  • California 65
  • California 84
  • California 99
  • California 104
  • California 113
  • California 160
  • California 193
  • California 275
  • Capitol City Freeway (Business Loop I-80)
  • Interstate 5
  • Interstate 80
  • U.S. 50

SACRAMENTO’S MOST DANGEROUS ROADS AND INTERSECTIONS 

Sacramento’s most dangerous roads include the following:

  • 24th Street
  • 25th Street
  • 29th Street
  • 30th Street
  • Franklin Boulevard
  • W Street

Some of Sacramento’s most dangerous intersections include the following:

  • 10th Street and X Street
  • 12th Avenue and 30th Street
  • 12th Street and B Street
  • 24th Street and its intersections with Florin Road, Meadowview Road, and W Street
  • 30th Street and its intersections with N Street and Capitol Avenue N Street Alley
  • Franklin Boulevard and its intersections with Fruitridge Road and Mack Road
  • Fruitridge Road and its intersections with Franklin Boulevard and Stockton Boulevard
  • Mack Road and its intersections with Franklin Boulevard and Valley High Drive
  • Stockton Boulevard and its intersections with Elder Creek Road and Fruitridge Road
  • W Street and its intersections with 24th Street and 25th Street
  • X Street and its intersections with 10th Street and 25th Street

TIPS TO AVOID CAR ACCIDENTS

New and experienced drivers can reduce their chances of being in car accidents by taking the following steps:

  • Slow down: Speeding is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents nationwide, and reducing your speed gives you more time to assess your driving conditions and respond to pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, and other drivers
  • Pay attention to the weather: Adjust your speed and use your low beams when driving through fog, rain, or snow
  • Keep your distance: Avoid tailgating
  • Pay attention: Keep your focus and eyes on the road and use both hands when driving to avoid distracted driving accidents
  • Study your route and plan: Know where you’re going and what turns to look for to ensure you’re in the correct lane when you need to turn
  • Avoid high accident areas: Familiarity with the route can help you avoid hazardous intersections and dangerous roadways. It’s a good idea to avoid these areas during rush hour traffic. Instead, please familiarize yourself with them when there’s less traffic on roadways.
  • Obey all traffic signs: Pay attention to school zones and speed limit signs. Come to a complete stop when required and yield when necessary.
  • Keep a clear mind: Do not drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications
  • Leave extra time: Rushing to work or appointments can trigger road rage if you run late and get stuck behind a slow driver. Giving yourself extra time prevents stressful scenarios that could trigger road rage and lead to an accident. 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE IN A CAR ACCIDENT

Even safe drivers can be in car accidents. Traffic-related accidents injured more than 2.28 million people in 2020 and claimed 38,824 lives, averaging more than 106 fatalities and 6230 injuries daily. 

In 2021, car crashes in California claimed 4,285 lives, averaging over 11 MVA deaths daily. 

You must take the correct steps after a car accident to avoid breaking California laws. Following these steps is also the best way to protect yourself from false claims you were at fault for the accident:

  • Stay at the scene: California law requires those involved in MVAs to stay at the scene if someone is injured or killed. Anyone leaving the scene under these circumstances may be charged and imprisoned or required to pay a fine. 
  • Check on others involved: Check to see if any drivers, passengers, or pedestrians suffered injuries. You’re required to aid anyone with injuries if you’re physically able to do so. Rendering aid may involve applying pressure to a laceration or calling an ambulance. 
  • Call 911: You have 24 hours to report an accident to the police if nobody’s injured or killed. Calling the police ensures you’ve complied with reporting laws. You may also need assistance if you can’t move vehicles off the roadway and need law enforcement officers to redirect traffic needs. Calling 911 also ensures paramedics are sent to treat anyone with injuries. 
  • Move your vehicle to a safe location: Pull your vehicle off the road if it’s possible to do so safely. You shouldn’t move your vehicle a considerable distance because you must stay at the scene. However, moving your vehicle can prevent subsequent accidents and injuries if you’re in a location with limited visibility. 
  • Exchange information: California law requires drivers to provide specific information to other drivers involved in a crash or to the police. You must present your driver’s license, insurance information, and vehicle registration card. You must also provide your current home address. You should also receive all that information from the other drivers involved. If other drivers don’t provide this information to you, ask one of the police officers at the scene for that information. 
  • Document the scene: Any information you record at the scene will be helpful later. Taking photos, making notes, and recording videos can help you recall critical details that could establish who’s at fault. 
  • Collect witness information: Create a record with the names and contact details of all witnesses. You may need to secure witness testimony to resolve a lawsuit after the accident.
  • Be careful of what you say and who you say it to: You aren’t obligated to make a statement to the police or others involved in the car accident, and you should avoid volunteering information or assuming even partial fault for the accident. You may be in shock, and there may be many factors you aren’t aware of that contributed to the accident. Contact a car accident attorney to receive legal counsel while you’re still at the scene. Car accident lawyers offer free consultations and typically charge contingency fees, so you won’t pay any legal fees until they win your case. When you talk to an attorney at the scene, they’ll remind you of the steps listed here and ensure you only provide the police and other drivers involved with the information you’re legally required to provide.

Call Sette Law for a free consultation about your car accident.

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT, CALL SETTE LAW

Being in a car accident is frightening. Whether you have minor vehicle damage or significant damage and physical injuries, dealing with the aftermath can be stressful and scary. You may be worried about the cost of repairs, lost income while you recover, and whether you’ll face a lawsuit. Even if you weren’t at fault, others may try to blame you to avoid liability.

Turning to the reputable legal team at Sette Law will alleviate your fears and ensure you make proactive decisions to protect yourself after an accident. We’ll investigate to determine who was at fault and take steps to hold them accountable. Depending on the accident’s cause and severity, you may have grounds to seek compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost income, and other accident-related costs.

You may also qualify for compensation for psychological trauma, pain, and personal suffering you’re enduring after the accident. You can also seek non-economic damages if your quality of life and relationships suffer because of your accident. 

Sette Law’s legal experts will also determine if there are grounds to seek punitive damages.

We’ll gather the evidence, interview witnesses, file legal paperwork, and fight for you to receive justice after your car accident.

Contact Sette Law to learn how we can help after a car accident.

SOURCES:

Article 3.7 Testing of Autonomous Vehicles. (2022). 

Bieber, C. (2023). Car Accident Statistics for 2023

California Code, Vehicle Code – VEH § 20001. (2023). 

Fatality Facts 2021: State by State. (2023). 

Mohn, T. (2023). Traffic Crashes Cost U.S. $340 Billion A Year, That’s $230 In Taxes For Every Household.

Number of road traffic-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S. from 1990 to 2020. (2023).