Texting while driving is allowed again in California, w... Texting while driving is allowed again in California, with one big catch. (Photo courtesy YouTube).
The view from the driver's seat may look the same as always. But there are some changes in the road ahead for 2013.

Motorists should note that driving laws have been updated in many states. Before getting behind the wheel, they should take the time to seek information specific to their state. But here's a quick look at some of the more notable changes that went into effect on Jan. 1 across the country:

California makes two big changes

In California, texting while driving is legal again.

There's one big catch to that – drivers must do it using a hands-free device. A state congressman wrote the new law to keep up with new technology, such as Apple's Siri or new in-car connectivity systems.

California Highway Patrol officer Adrian Quintero tells public radio that the change is very specific. "If you're driving with a phone in your hand and you're operating with the phone in your hand, it is a violation of the section. ... It has to be hands-free."

If drivers cannot use their smart phones for texting while driving in California, they can use them for showing police officers proof of insurance during traffic stops.

A new law gives motorists the option of displaying the proof of insurance on electronic devices so they don't have to drive around with a copy in their glove box.

Florida law OKs warnings

In Florida, it is now OK for motorists to flash their headlights and warn other drivers of a speed trap ahead. But beware: Some lawyers say the law still has loopholes that overzealous officers could use to punish motorists.

Motorcylists under the microscope

In Illinois, lawmakers are cracking down on motorcyclists.

Bikers face a $1,000 fine if they are caught popping wheelie[s while speeding, and the punishment grows for a second ($2,500) and third ($5,000) offenses. A second law is aimed at motorists who have high handlebars on their bikes. State Bill 3452 prohibits handlebars from being higher than the driver's head.

It also mandates that cyclists keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.

Teen drivers face longer wait

In Maine, teen drivers face more stringent requirements. A new state law lengthens the intermediate phase of teen-driving permits from six months to nine months. In that timeframe, teen drivers with a permit still cannot drive passengers or drive at night.

Limiting passengers and night-time driving are two key steps parents can take in keeping their teenagers relatively safer on the road. Here's a look at other tips parents can use to keep their new drivers as safe as possible.



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