New Traffic Law Attempts to Reduce Bicycle Accident Rates
Beginning in September 2014, motorists can be fined for endangering a cyclist while passing
Among the many new transportation laws signed by Governor Jerry Brown and scheduled to take effect in 2014 is a measure intended to help protect bicyclists from traffic accidents. The law, known as AB 1371, specifies that motorists must allow at least three feet of space between all parts of their vehicle and the bicyclist. If it is not possible to allow this amount of passing distance, the driver must slow down to a “reasonable and prudent” speed and only pass when it is safe for everyone involved. Drivers who fail to follow this new law can be fined, regardless of whether or not their actions resulted in an accident.
Bicyclists Must Do Their Part Too
This new law represents a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing overall bicycle accident rates. After all, most bicycle accidents are caused by negligence on the part of a motorist, so any measure that can help drivers remember to look out for bicyclists and share the road with them safely is a good thing. However, bicyclists must also follow the rules of the road in order to help prevent accidents. Often, bicyclists are tempted to disobey traffic signals or drive in between rows of stopped cars, which is not only illegal but also exposes them to heightened dangers and risks of a serious accident. According to data from the California DMV, hundreds of thousands of people are injured in bicycle accidents each year. If, by working together, bicyclists and motorists can prevent even 1 percent of these injuries, a thousand people could be spared pain and suffering.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Bicycle Accident
If you are injured in a traffic accident involving a bicycle, you need to complete these three steps as soon as possible:
- Seek medical treatment
- Document the scene of the accident
- Call an attorney
Remember, whether you are the motorist or the bicyclist, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and suffering if the other party’s negligent or reckless actions caused the accident. Do not risk losing out on the compensation you deserve by making your own statement to the insurance company, making any admission of fault, or allowing the other party to manipulate the evidence at the scene of the accident. Instead, contact an expert bicycle accident attorney such as Fernando D. Vargas for immediate assistance.