Cyclists are always in danger from negligent drivers. In response to the threat, California lawmakers passed a bill requiring drivers to give them at least three feet of room. Passage of the bill made California the 24th state to enact a three-foot passing law.
California’s three-foot law was certainly needed, as 150 cyclists died in 2012 from car collisions.
How Does the Three Feet for Safety Act Work?
In addition to providing room to cyclists, if traffic is too dense to give cyclists a safe distance of three feet, drivers must slow down to a reasonable speed to wait until passing the cyclist is safe. Vehicles that do not give three feet of room or slow down to wait before passing a bicycle can be fined $35. The fine increases to $220 if a vehicle hits a cyclist and the driver is found to be in violation of the law.
Has the New Law Been Effective in Reducing Bicycle Accidents?
The effectiveness of the Three Feet for Safety Act, or lack thereof, has been discussed since soon after its inception last September. Four months after the law went into effect, several law enforcement agencies throughout Southern California have reported no noticeable reduction in bicycle accidents.
Several misconceptions about the law may be contributing to a lackluster performance in reducing accidents – such as the idea that cyclists are supposed to stay on sidewalks. It is also highly likely that because the law is so new, not enough data exists as to whether it can truly be called “ineffective”.
Publicity on the law’s passage and implementation has certainly been effective at educating the public on bicycle safety.
What Can Cyclists Do to Avoid Drivers Who Ignore This New Law?
We advise our readers to take a careful look at our California bicycle safety website, as it has a lot of information that will help cyclists stay safe on busy roads throughout San Diego. Cycling is supposed to be fun, not end in tragedy. By educating yourself on how to stay safe, you will reduce your chance of being in a cycling accident and potentially facing a catastrophic injury.
Joshua Bonnici is a San Diego injury attorney and cyclist. To find out more about Bonnici Law Group, please visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Bonnici Law Group – San Diego Bicycle Accident Attorney
Did You Know? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that adults over 20 represent 84% of bicycle accident fatalities. Alcohol impairment and not wearing helmets were top contributors to fatal accidents.