Code Section Group

Vehicle Code - VEH

DIVISION 11. RULES OF THE ROAD [21000 - 23336]

  ( Division 11 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

CHAPTER 3. Driving, Overtaking, and Passing [21650 - 21759]

  ( Chapter 3 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

ARTICLE 1. Driving on Right Side [21650 - 21664]
  ( Article 1 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

21650.
  

Upon all highways, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway, except as follows:

(a) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing that movement.

(b) When placing a vehicle in a lawful position for, and when the vehicle is lawfully making, a left turn.

(c) When the right half of a roadway is closed to traffic under construction or repair.

(d) Upon a roadway restricted to one-way traffic.

(e) When the roadway is not of sufficient width.

(f) When the vehicle is necessarily traveling so slowly as to impede the normal movement of traffic, that portion of the highway adjacent to the right edge of the roadway may be utilized temporarily when in a condition permitting safe operation.

(g) This section does not prohibit the operation of bicycles on any shoulder of a highway, on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.

(h) This section does not prohibit the operation of a transit bus on the shoulder of a state highway in conjunction with the implementation of a program authorized pursuant to Section 148.1 of the Streets and Highways Code on state highways within the areas served by the transit services of the Monterey-Salinas Transit District or the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District.

(Amended by Stats. 2013, Ch. 426, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2014.)

21650.1.
  

A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.

(Added by Stats. 1988, Ch. 58, Sec. 2.)

21651.
  

(a) Whenever a highway has been divided into two or more roadways by means of intermittent barriers or by means of a dividing section of not less than two feet in width, either unpaved or delineated by curbs, double-parallel lines, or other markings on the roadway, it is unlawful to do either of the following:

(1) To drive any vehicle over, upon, or across the dividing section.

(2) To make any left, semicircular, or U-turn with the vehicle on the divided highway, except through an opening in the barrier designated and intended by public authorities for the use of vehicles or through a plainly marked opening in the dividing section.

(b) It is unlawful to drive any vehicle upon a highway, except to the right of an intermittent barrier or a dividing section which separates two or more opposing lanes of traffic. Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (c), a violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor.

(c) Any willful violation of subdivision (b) which results in injury to, or death of, a person shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code, or imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than six months.

(Amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15, Sec. 608. Effective April 4, 2011. Operative October 1, 2011, by Sec. 636 of Ch. 15, as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 39, Sec. 68.)

21651.1.
  

(a) The Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Department of the California Highway Patrol, shall update the June 1989 report entitled “Prevention of Wrong-Way Accidents” prepared by the Department of Transportation pursuant to Chapter 153 of the Statutes of 1987. The update shall account for technological advancements and innovation since publication of the 1989 report and shall include a review of methods studied or implemented by other jurisdictions, including state or local agencies within or outside the state, and methods studied by nongovernmental entities to prevent wrong-way drivers from entering state highways. A preliminary version of the updated report shall be provided to the Senate Committee on Housing and Transportation and the Assembly Committee on Transportation on or before December 1, 2015, and the final report shall be provided to those committees on or before July 1, 2016. The report shall identify any additional treatments and technologies with the potential to reduce the number of instances of wrong-way driving on state highways and shall include a plan to incorporate those treatments and technologies into the Department of Transportation’s wrong way monitoring and mitigation program for the state highway system.

(b) This section is repealed on January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 10231.5 of the Government Code.

(Added by Stats. 2015, Ch. 101, Sec. 2. Effective July 15, 2015. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, by its own provisions.)

21652.
  

When any service road has been constructed on or along any public highway and the main thoroughfare of the highway has been separated from the service road, it is unlawful for any person to drive any vehicle into the main thoroughfare from the service road or from the main thoroughfare into the service road except through an opening in the dividing curb, section, separation, or line.

(Amended by Stats. 1963, Ch. 335.)

21654.
  

(a) Notwithstanding the prima facie speed limits, any vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(b) If a vehicle is being driven at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time, and is not being driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, it shall constitute prima facie evidence that the driver is operating the vehicle in violation of subdivision (a) of this section.

(c) The Department of Transportation, with respect to state highways, and local authorities, with respect to highways under their jurisdiction, may place and maintain upon highways official signs directing slow-moving traffic to use the right-hand traffic lane except when overtaking and passing another vehicle or preparing for a left turn.

(Amended by Stats. 1974, Ch. 545.)

21655.
  

(a) Whenever the Department of Transportation or local authorities with respect to highways under their respective jurisdictions determines upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that the designation of a specific lane or lanes for the travel of vehicles required to travel at reduced speeds would facilitate the safe and orderly movement of traffic, the department or local authority may designate a specific lane or lanes for the travel of vehicles which are subject to the provisions of Section 22406 and shall erect signs at reasonable intervals giving notice thereof.

(b) Any trailer bus, except as provided in Section 21655.5, and any vehicle subject to the provisions of Section 22406 shall be driven in the lane or lanes designated pursuant to subdivision (a) whenever signs have been erected giving notice of that designation. Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, when a specific lane or lanes have not been so designated, any of those vehicles shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right edge or curb. If, however, a specific lane or lanes have not been designated on a divided highway having four or more clearly marked lanes for traffic in one direction, any of those vehicles may also be driven in the lane to the immediate left of that right-hand lane, unless otherwise prohibited under this code. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, the driver shall use either the designated lane, the lane to the immediate left of the right-hand lane, or the right-hand lane for traffic as permitted under this code.

This subdivision does not apply to a driver who is preparing for a left- or right-hand turn or who is entering into or exiting from a highway or to a driver who must necessarily drive in a lane other than the right-hand lane to continue on his or her intended route.

(Amended by Stats. 1988, Ch. 843, Sec. 4.)

21655.1.
  

(a) A person shall not operate a motor vehicle on a portion of a highway that has been designated for the exclusive use of public transit buses, except in compliance with the directions of a peace officer or official traffic control device.

(b) This section does not apply to a driver who is required to enter a lane designated for the exclusive use of public transit buses in order to make a right turn or a left turn in a location where there is no left-turn lane for motorists, or who is entering into or exiting from a highway, unless there are signs prohibiting turns across the lane or the lane is delineated by a physical separation, including, but not limited to, a curb, fence, landscaping, or other barrier.

(c) A public transit agency, with the agreement of the agency with jurisdiction over the highway, shall place and maintain, or cause to be placed and maintained, signs and other official traffic control devices, as necessary, indicating that a portion of a highway is designated for the exclusive use of public transit buses and to advise motorists of the hours of operation of the lane as an exclusive public transit bus lane.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 716, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2017.)

21655.5.
  

(a) The Department of Transportation and local authorities, with respect to highways under their respective jurisdictions, may authorize or permit exclusive or preferential use of highway lanes for high-occupancy vehicles. Prior to establishing the lanes, competent engineering estimates shall be made of the effect of the lanes on safety, congestion, and highway capacity.

(b) The Department of Transportation and local authorities, with respect to highways under their respective jurisdictions, shall place and maintain, or cause to be placed and maintained, signs and other official traffic control devices to designate the exclusive or preferential lanes, to advise motorists of the applicable vehicle occupancy levels, and, except where ramp metering and bypass lanes are regulated with the activation of traffic signals, to advise motorists of the hours of high-occupancy vehicle usage. No person shall drive a vehicle upon those lanes except in conformity with the instructions imparted by the official traffic control devices. A motorcycle, a mass transit vehicle, or a paratransit vehicle that is clearly and identifiably marked on all sides of the vehicle with the name of the paratransit provider may be operated upon those exclusive or preferential use lanes unless specifically prohibited by a traffic control device.

(c) When responding to an existing emergency or breakdown in which a mass transit vehicle is blocking an exclusive or preferential use lane, a clearly marked mass transit vehicle, mass transit supervisor’s vehicle, or mass transit maintenance vehicle that is responding to the emergency or breakdown may be operated in the segment of the exclusive or preferential use lane being blocked by the mass transit vehicle, regardless of the number of persons in the vehicle responding to the emergency or breakdown, if both vehicles are owned or operated by the same agency, and that agency provides public mass transit services.

(d) For purposes of this section, a “paratransit vehicle” is defined in Section 462.

(e) For purposes of this section, a “mass transit vehicle” means a transit bus regularly used to transport paying passengers in mass transit service.

(f) It is the intent of the Legislature, in amending this section, to stimulate and encourage the development of ways and means of relieving traffic congestion on California highways and, at the same time, to encourage individual citizens to pool their vehicular resources and thereby conserve fuel and lessen emission of air pollutants.

(g) The provisions of this section regarding mass transit vehicles and paratransit vehicles shall only apply if the Director of Transportation determines that the application will not subject the state to a reduction in the amount of federal aid for highways.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 277, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2003.)

21655.6.
  

(a)  Whenever the Department of Transportation authorizes or permits exclusive or preferential use of highway lanes for high-occupancy vehicles on any highway located within the territory of a transportation planning agency, as defined in Section 99214 of the Public Utilities Code, or a county transportation commission, the department shall obtain the approval of the transportation planning agency or county transportation commission prior to establishing the exclusive or preferential use of the highway lanes.

(b) If the department authorizes or permits additional exclusive or preferential use of highway lanes for high-occupancy vehicles on that portion of State Highway Route 101 located within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles, the department shall obtain the approval of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission by at least a two-thirds majority vote of the entire membership eligible to vote prior to establishing the additional exclusion or preferential use of the highway lanes.

(c) If the department restricts or requires the restriction of the use of any lane on any federal-aid highway in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County to high-occupancy vehicles, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission shall review the use patterns of those lanes and shall determine if congestion relief is being efficiently achieved by the creation of the high-occupancy vehicle lanes. The commission shall report its findings and recommendations in its HOV Master Plan Update for the San Francisco Bay area no later than two years after those high-occupancy vehicle lanes become operational.

(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 653, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1999.)

21655.7.
  

A local authority, with respect to any highway under its jurisdiction, may authorize or permit a portion of the highway to be used exclusively for a public mass transit guideway.

(Added by Stats. 1981, Ch. 1055, Sec. 12.)

21655.8.
  

(a) Except as required under subdivision (b), when exclusive or preferential use lanes for high-occupancy vehicles are established pursuant to Section 21655.5 and double parallel solid lines are in place to the right thereof, no person driving a vehicle may cross over these double lines to enter into or exit from the exclusive or preferential use lanes, and entrance or exit may be made only in areas designated for these purposes or where a single broken line is in place to the right of the exclusive or preferential use lanes.

(b) Upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle displaying a red light or siren, as specified in Section 21806, a person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use lane shall exit that lane immediately upon determining that the exit can be accomplished with reasonable safety.

(c) Raised pavement markers may be used to simulate painted lines described in this section.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 1154, Sec. 67. Effective September 30, 1996.)

21655.9.
  

(a) (1) If the Department of Transportation or a local authority authorizes or permits exclusive or preferential use of highway lanes or highway access ramps for high-occupancy vehicles pursuant to Section 21655.5, the use of those lanes or ramps shall also be extended to vehicles that are issued distinctive decals, labels, or other identifiers pursuant to Section 5205.5 regardless of vehicle occupancy or ownership.

(2) A local authority during periods of peak congestion shall suspend for a lane the access privileges extended pursuant to paragraph (1) for those vehicles issued distinctive decals, labels, or other identifiers pursuant to Section 5205.5, if a periodic review of lane performance by that local authority discloses both of the following factors regarding the lane:

(A) The lane, or a portion of the lane, exceeds a level of service C, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 65089 of the Government Code.

(B) The operation or projected operation of vehicles in the lane, or a portion of the lane, will significantly increase congestion.

(b) A person shall not drive a vehicle described in subdivision (a) of Section 5205.5 with a single occupant upon a high-occupancy vehicle lane pursuant to this section unless the decal, label, or other identifier issued pursuant to Section 5205.5 is properly displayed on the vehicle, and the vehicle registration described in Section 5205.5 is with the vehicle.

(c) A person shall not operate or own a vehicle displaying a decal, label, or other identifier, as described in Section 5205.5, if that decal, label, or identifier was not issued for that vehicle pursuant to Section 5205.5. A violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor.

(d) If the provisions in Section 5205.5 authorizing the department to issue decals, labels, or other identifiers to hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles are repealed, vehicles displaying those decals, labels, or other identifiers shall not access high-occupancy vehicle lanes without meeting the occupancy requirements otherwise applicable to those lanes.

(e) (1) With respect to a vehicle described in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 5205.5, this section shall become inoperative on January 1, 2019, or the date the federal authorization pursuant to Section 166 of Title 23 of the United States Code expires, or the date the Secretary of State receives the notice described in subdivision (i) of Section 5205.5, whichever occurs first.

(2) With respect to a vehicle described in paragraph (1) or paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 5205.5, this section shall become inoperative on January 1, 2019.

(f) (1) The Department of Transportation shall prepare and submit a report to the Legislature on or before December 1, 2017, on the degradation status of high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the state highway system.

(2) The requirement that a report be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be inoperative on December 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 10231.5 of the Government Code.

(3) A report submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 339, Sec. 17. Effective September 13, 2016.)

21656.
  

On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, any vehicle proceeding upon the highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout by signs erected by the authority having jurisdiction over the highway, or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 265, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2016.)

21657.
  

The authorities in charge of any highway may designate any highway, roadway, part of a roadway, or specific lanes upon which vehicular traffic shall proceed in one direction at all or such times as shall be indicated by official traffic control devices. When a roadway has been so designated, a vehicle shall be driven only in the direction designated at all or such times as shall be indicated by traffic control devices.

(Amended by Stats. 1969, Ch. 136.)

21658.
  

Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic in one direction, the following rules apply:

(a) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.

(b) Official signs may be erected directing slow-moving traffic to use a designated lane or allocating specified lanes to traffic moving in the same direction, and drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of the traffic device.

(Amended by Stats. 1975, Ch. 450.)

21658.1.
  

(a) For the purposes of this section, “lane splitting” means driving a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.

(b) The Department of the California Highway Patrol may develop educational guidelines relating to lane splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of the motorcyclist and the drivers and passengers of the surrounding vehicles.

(c) In developing guidelines pursuant to this section, the department shall consult with agencies and organizations with an interest in road safety and motorcyclist behavior, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

(1) The Department of Motor Vehicles.

(2) The Department of Transportation.

(3) The Office of Traffic Safety.

(4) A motorcycle organization focused on motorcyclist safety.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 141, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2017.)

21659.
  

Upon a roadway which is divided into three lanes a vehicle shall not be driven in the extreme left lane at any time, nor in the center lane except when overtaking and passing another vehicle where the roadway ahead is clearly visible and the center lane is clear of traffic within a safe distance, or in preparation for a left turn, or where the center lane is at the time allocated exclusively to traffic moving in the direction the vehicle is proceeding and is signposted to give notice of such allocation. This section does not apply upon a one-way roadway.

(Enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.)

21660.
  

Drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right, and, except when a roadway has been divided into traffic lanes, each driver shall give to the other at least one-half of the main traveled portion of the roadway whenever possible.

(Enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.)

21661.
  

Whenever upon any grade the width of the roadway is insufficient to permit the passing of vehicles approaching from opposite directions at the point of meeting, the driver of the vehicle descending the grade shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle ascending the grade and shall, if necessary, back his vehicle to a place in the highway where it is possible for the vehicles to pass.

(Enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.)

21662.
  

The driver of a motor vehicle traveling through defiles or canyons or upon mountain highways shall hold the motor vehicle under control at all times and shall do the following when applicable:

(a) If the roadway has no marked centerline, the driver shall drive as near the right-hand edge of the roadway as is reasonably possible.

(b) If the roadway has insufficient width to permit a motor vehicle to be driven entirely to the right of the center of the roadway, the driver shall give audible warning with the horn of the motor vehicle upon approaching any curve where the view is obstructed within a distance of 200 feet along the highway.

(Amended by Stats. 1984, Ch. 462, Sec. 2.)

21663.
  

Except as expressly permitted pursuant to this code, including Sections 21100.4 and 21114.5, no person shall operate or move a motor vehicle upon a sidewalk except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 124, Sec. 126. Effective January 1, 1997.)

21664.
  

It is unlawful for the driver of any vehicle to enter or exit any freeway which has full control of access and no crossings at grade, except upon a designated on ramp with respect to entering the freeway or a designated off ramp with respect to exiting the freeway.

(Amended by Stats. 1988, Ch. 765, Sec. 2.)

VEHVehicle Code - VEH1.