Idaho motorists face several new requirements beginning July 1 as a result of action taken by the 2005 Legislature.
Children younger than 6 years of age, regardless of their weight, will need to ride in approved child safety restraints
In addition, a provision of a law approved during the 2003 Legislative session will take effect in July, prohibiting the sale of tires that do not meet current standards.
Here is a summary of the legislation that goes into effect Friday, July 1:
New booster seat requirements:
Under the new law, children 6 years of age and younger must be properly secured in child safety seats or booster seats. Previously, Idaho’s safety seat law applied only to children up to age 4 and less than 40 pounds. The weight provisions are eliminated in the new law and the restraint requirements extended to children 6 years and younger. Idaho is the 28th state to adopt a booster seat law.
A booster seat elevates a child so a seat belt can fit correctly. Most seat belts are designed to protect an average–sized adult male. Young children using only seat belts are at risk of injuries to the abdomen and spine, can be ejected from the vehicle and are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in a crash than if secured in a booster seat.
Quick clearance law:
Signs will be placed along the interstates and major divided highways to remind motorists of the new requirements.
The quick clearance law will not interfere with any law enforcement officer’s duty to investigate crashes or enforce criminal, traffic or highway laws. Officers will have the authority to require removal of vehicles, cargo or debris from the travel lanes.
No one will be considered at fault for the cause of a collision, solely because they move a vehicle in accordance with the new law.
Teenage operators of ATVs
This replaces the previous requirement that passengers younger than 18 must wear an approved helmet when operating a motorcycle on any highway.
Motorcycles and ATVs operated on private property or used as implements of husbandry (agricultural purposes) are excluded from the helmet requirements.
The new law requires that trailers be equipped with an additional reflector on each front corner. The new requirement amends existing law that that required only rear reflectors on each side of trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds.
Private college specialized license plates
Individuals will have the option of purchasing the new plates at an initial cost of $35 in program fee and $25 for renewals in successive years. Of those license fees, $10 will be distributed to the State Highway Account and the remainder to the respective college for college/university program funds.
Sample plates will also be available for $30, of which $10 goes to the State Highway Account, and $20 to the appropriate college or university funds.
Idaho has 23 special interest program license plates with proceeds distributed to the respective institution and State Highway Account.
Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs)
The new law provides a description of an NEV, and requires conformance to federal regulation 49 CFR part 571, regarding standards for low-speed vehicles. These NEV's now must be titled and registered the same as any passenger car.
Dealers that sell these vehicles also must be licensed by ITD, the same as all motor vehicle dealers.
Neighborhood electric vehicles are self propelled, electrically powered four wheeled motor vehicles that are emission free. They generally are designed to carry two or more persons in (not on) the vehicle, and are primarily, but not exclusively, designed to make short trips for shopping, social, and recreational purposes (typically within retirement or other planned communities).
Operators of these vehicles will be required to meet the same requirements as any other driver, requiring insurance, a valid driver's license, and compliance with all the laws of operation of a vehicle.
The bill restricts operation of these vehicles to state highways posted at no more than 25 mph, prohibits crossing of state highways with a posted speed limit greater than 25 mph, and makes it unlawful for these vehicles to cross an uncontrolled intersection of highways that is part of the state highway system.
Air Search & Rescue Operations
Response notification and coordination for all other (non-aviation) types of emergencies is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Homeland Security, which can lead to redundancy and confusion during a search and rescue mission. Consolidating the two existing systems simplifies the procedure for local organizations and agencies.
Snow tires with heavy weight studs
Under the law, new tires cannot be sold if they contain studs that protrude more than six-hundredths of an inch (.06) from the surface of the tire and weigh more than 1.5 grams (if the stud is size 14 or less). Studs that are size 15 or 16 can weigh no more than 2.3 grams, and studs that are size 17 or larger cannot exceed three grams.
Part of the legislation that became effective in 2004 authorizes the use of studded tires between Sept. 30 and May 1, unless otherwise authorized by the Idaho Transportation Board.
Motorists may continue to drive on tires that have the longer, heavier studs but will not be able to purchase replacements in Idaho when those tires wear out.