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San Diego, California Traffic Laws

The California Vehicle Code protects all drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists traveling in the state. The rules govern their actions. Failure to abide by the law could lead to fines and jail time – not to mention crashes, injuries, and deaths.

In 2016, 21,534 people were killed and injured in motor vehicle crashes in San Diego County, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Below are a few highlights of California traffic laws and what to do if someone injures you in a crash.


Maximum speed limits vary across the state. The speed limit is 65 mph on most highways and 55 mph on others. Regardless of the posted speed limit on any given road, drivers’ speed should depend on certain factors around them. These factors include (but are not limited to):

  • Weather,
  • Nearby construction zones,
  • Road conditions,
  • School zones, playgrounds, and other areas where children are present,
  • Traffic volume and speed of other vehicles on the road, and
  • Whether bicyclists and/or pedestrians are present.

Choosing to drive at a reduced speed is not just following the law. It can also allow for more reaction time and reduce a driver’s chance of crashing.

Seat Belts

By law, California drivers and their passengers must buckle up every time. There are also important thresholds for the required use of child passenger restraint systems. The California Department of Motor Vehicles outlines this information here.


Drivers must use headlights 30 minutes after sunset and leave them on until 30 minutes before sunrise. They must dim to low beams within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and within 300 feet behind another. Drivers must turn on headlights if snow, rain, fog, dust, or low visibility requires the use of windshield wipers.

Sharing the Road Under California Traffic Laws

Even a small passenger car weighs thousands of pounds. That’s why it’s critical for drivers to do their due diligence to share the road with other vehicles and give the right-of-way to pedestrians and bicyclists.


Tractor-trailers have additional blind spots called “no-zones.” Traveling in these areas is risky for multiple reasons. A truck driver may not see a smaller vehicle when it is in a no-zone. If unaware that a car is occupying that space, the driver might change lanes and crash into the car. Blocking these areas could also stop a truck driver from evading danger in traffic.

Drivers of tractor-trailers also need more time to stop. It’s important to give trucks extra room in case an immediate stop is necessary.


Pedestrians have the right-of-way around all types of motor vehicles and bicycles. Tragically, pedestrian deaths still happen in about 22 percent of traffic fatalities in California.

As a driver, it’s critical to know the rules of the road when traveling around pedestrians. For example:

  • Drivers must stop for a pedestrian crossing the road, even if there are no traffic signals or painted lines.
  • When another vehicle has stopped at a crosswalk, other drivers must stop before passing in case a pedestrian is crossing the street.
  • Sidewalks are dangerous for pedestrians. Driving on a sidewalk is prohibited unless the car is safely crossing to enter or exit a driveway or lot.

Bicyclists also have the right-of-way around motor vehicles. According to California’s Three Feet for Safety Act, drivers must provide a distance of at least three feet when overtaking or passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction. If traffic or roadway conditions prevent a motorist from complying with this rule, the driver must slow to a reasonable speed and only pass the bicycle when safe.

The California Driver Handbook outlines everything drivers need to know about California traffic laws. The book is free for download here.

Car Crash Injuries in California

Negligence on the road can lead to a crash. If you were injured in a collision caused by another driver, there is no time to waste. Evidence and witnesses disappear with time. Insurance adjusters will be calling soon to try to settle your claim for less than it’s worth.

At CaseyGerry, our legal team includes two full-time car accident investigators. We uncover the details of the situation to protect your rights. In the meantime, we also handle issues with the insurance company. That way, you can focus on recovering from a devastating situation that never should have happened. We welcome you to contact our firm at (619) 238-1811.

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