The Three Feet Rule Bicycle Law in California

-Posted On October 10, 2022 In Bicycle Community,Bikes and California Law-

It’s no secret that cyclists are extremely vulnerable to injuries on the road. From distracted drivers to motorists who fail to yield the right of way, many hazards could lead to a bicycle accident. To help reduce the risk of these incidents, California has passed several important bicycle laws, including the Three Feet for Safety Act.

The three feet bicycle passing law helps protect cyclists from accidents caused by drivers who follow too closely. This law requires all motorists to give cyclists at least three feet of clearance from any part of their vehicles. 

An Overview of the Three Feet for Safety Act

In 2013, California passed the Three Feet for Safety Act after years of advocacy from bicycle safety organizations. Under this law, which went into effect in October 2014, drivers must provide more space to cyclists when passing them from behind. 

Previously, California law required drivers to leave a safe distance between themselves and cyclists, which was vague. Now, motorists must leave at least three feet between any part of their car and any part of the bicycle. This law applies when a driver is passing a cyclist from behind while traveling in the same direction.

If a driver is on a road where he or she is too close to legally pass a cyclist, he or she will need to slow down and watch oncoming traffic. The driver is allowed to pass the cyclist when they have a clear view of traffic, but not if the road had a double yellow centerline. 

What Happens If a Driver Breaks the Three Feet Rule?

If a driver is found to have violated the three feet passing law, he or she can face hundreds of dollars in fines. The amount will depend on whether the driver injured a cyclist while passing too closely.

  • Drivers will face a base fine if a police officer catches them passing too closely. The base fine for breaking the three-feet rule is $35. However, the total amount, including court and administrative fees, is $233. 
  • If a driver passes too closely and injures a cyclist as a result, the fines will substantially increase. The base fine would be $220, or $959 with the court and administrative fees added.

In addition to these fines, drivers who break the three-feet rule will face a traffic infraction. They will get a point added to their driver’s record.

What to Do If You Are Injured in a Bicycle Accident 

Although the three-feet rule intends to reduce collisions between drivers and cyclists, these accidents still happen quite frequently. If you were injured by a driver who passes too closely, you can feel hurt, scared, and overwhelmed. In these situations, it is critical to stay calm.

Call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement. Make sure to mention to the responding police officer that the driver passed too closely to your bicycle. Go to the hospital and get treatment for your injuries. Try to gather evidence by taking pictures, speaking to witnesses, and collecting the at-fault driver’s information.

Then, contact a California bicycle accident lawyer to represent your case. Your personal injury attorney can help you hold the driver accountable and recover fair compensation in your insurance claim or lawsuit.

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