A new California traffic law took effect Sept. 16, requiring that vehicle drivers allow three feet of distance when overtaking or passing a bicyclist.
If three feet is not available, a driver must then slow to a safe speed and pass when no danger is present. Violators of the new law face a $35 fine. If a driver violates the law and causes a collision that injures the bicyclist, the fine can jump to $220.
According to data from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, in 2012 there were 153 bicyclists killed in California. This reflects a 7-percent increase from 2011. Those deaths accounted for 5 percent of the total collision fatalities in California.
California is the 24th state to pass a three-foot passing law aimed at protecting bicyclists. Pennsylvania’s law is even stricter, requiring drivers to maintain at least a four-foot buffer between their vehicle and bicycles.
"With both drivers and bicyclists doing their part, we can help reduce the number of tragedies involving bicyclists," said Joe Farrow, commissioner of the California Highway Patrol.
For a list of AAA safety tips aimed at preventing vehicle-bicycle collisions, click here.