According to data reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each year hundreds of bicyclists and other pedalcyclists die and tens of thousands are injured as a result of vehicular collisions. Biking is a popular way to exercise, commute, and enjoy the outdoors, but cyclists remain vulnerable on the road; in a crash between a multi-ton vehicle and a bicycle, generally the bike and its rider will fare much worse in the aftermath.
Three Feet for Safety Act
One of the new traffic laws coming to California in 2014 is a regulation aimed at better protecting bicyclists. The law, called the Three Feet for Safety Act, was signed in late September of 2013 and will come into effect during the fall of this year.
What the law requires is that when drivers attempt to pass cyclists headed in the same direction, they need to put at least three feet of space between the car and the bike. In cases where this is physically impossible, they’ll need to make sure they’re proceeding at a safe speed and only pass the bike when it’s safe to do so. Drivers who don’t comply with this regulation face a fine, even if there’s no collision.
Will this bring down the rate of bicycle accidents?
That remains to be seen. Hopefully it will help drivers be more cognizant of the vulnerability of cyclists on the road. Even in the months before this law takes into effect, California drivers should evaluate their conduct on the road. They should ensure that they’re behaving with consideration for other people’s safety, putting sufficient space between themselves and other vehicles (including bikes) and making sure they aren’t speeding, especially on curving roads where it isn’t clear who’s ahead.
Cyclists should also follow traffic laws and safety guidelines, including the use of lights and reflective gear at night to make sure they’re more visible on the road.
If you’ve suffered a bicycle accident, be sure to contact reputable attorneys to review your case and determine the best ways to receive compensation from insurance companies and from any parties who are responsible for the accident. But hopefully you won’t fall victim to such accidents; new laws, in combination with more conscientious behavior on the road, may very well help you avoid a collision on your bike.