The governor of California has signed a bill into law that now requires drivers to maintain at least a three-foot passing distance between a vehicle and a bicyclist. How can a motorist tell if he or she is allowing at least three feet? It’s about the same distance as opening a passenger car door. This can give a motorist a good idea of how much clearance should be afforded to bicyclists when they are in the same lane as a motor vehicle.
The law does have penalties when it’s broken. A driver may be cited by law enforcement if he or she violates the law. There are two penalties possible. If a driver violates the law but causes no injuries, then the fine is $35. While that may not sound like much, by the time administrative and court fees are tacked on, the fine is $233. For a violation that results in injuries to a bicyclist, the fine is $220. With the added fees, the fine is $959.
There are still some questions about certain factors involving the law. For example, are motorists supposed to give three feet to a bicyclist if he or she is in a bike lane? The answer isn’t clear, so it is probably best to give three feet anyway.
Those who are injured by a motorist while riding their bicycle do have a right to pursue compensation from a driver that was at fault. There are many claims a bicyclist may have in a civil suit, including pain and suffering, emotional trauma, medical bills and more. An experienced personal injury attorney can help bicyclists who want to hold the bike accident’s responsible party accountable.
Source: California Bicycle Coalition, “Give Me 3 FAQ” Sep. 27, 2014