LICENSE/DOCUMENTATION: You must have a valid driver’s license from a U.S. state or foreign country. Minimum driving age is 16. For more information about California driver’s license regulations, call 1-800-777-0133.
SEATBELT: By law, everyone in a vehicle must wear a seatbelt. Children under the age of eight (8) must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat. Infants should stay in rearfacing seats until they weigh at least 20 pounds, can pull themselves up to stand, or reach one year of age.
HELMETS: Motorcycle helmets must be worn by all motorcycle riders, as well as their passengers. Bicycle riders under the age of 18 must wear helmets.
SPEED LIMITS: These are posted in miles-per-hour (mph). Generally, the speed limit on multilane freeways is 65 mph. On two-lane highways it is usually 55 mph. The speed limit on city streets is usually 25-35 mph. In residential areas, near schools and in areas with heavy foot traffic, the speed limit is almost always 25 mph.
CARPOOL LANES: Major urban areas have carpool lanes (or “diamond lanes”) identified by small black-and-white signs and by diamonds painted on the roadway. To drive in a carpool lane, you must usually have two people (including the driver) in the car. Some carpool lanes in the San Francisco Bay Area require three people (including the driver).
CELL PHONES: The Wireless Communications Device Law makes it an infraction to write, send or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communications device, such as a cell phone, while driving a motor vehicle. Drivers must also use a hands-free device when speaking on a cell phone.
ACCIDENTS: You must report accidents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles if injury or death occurs, or if damage exceeds $750.
DRINKING AND DRIVING: It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol (blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher).
ROAD CONDITIONS: The California Department of Transportation maintains a free 24-hour hotline for information at 1-800-427-7623. In the San Francisco Bay Area, dial 511 on your phone to get up-to-the-minute transportation information.
OTHER: Roundabouts are uncommon in California. Most intersections are either signed by traffic lights or by stop signs. Unless signed otherwise, it is legal to make a right turn on a red light after you come to a complete stop.