Contact Us Today
Office LocationKamerow Law Firm, PLLC
5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
Safe Passing Of Bicyclist Laws In Virginia
It can be dangerous for a motorist to pass a bicyclist too closely. Either the bicyclist or the motorist can swerve, veer or experience a split second of difficulty, and a tragedy can occur. There are 26 states plus the District of Columbia that require motorists to give bicyclists three feet of a clearance buffer zone when passing them. Virginia became one of those states on July 1, 2014.
The New Law
If necessary, the driver of the motor vehicle must also slow down to a reasonable speed before making the pass with the required three feet of clearance. The new passing law also applies when passing electric personal assistive mobility devices, power assisted bicycles, mopeds and animals or animal drawn vehicles traveling in the same direction as the motorist. Before that, Virginia only required two feet of clearance. The three foot clearance law is also being considered by four other states.
Many bicyclists experience close and high-speed passes by motorists. They call these buzzes. These buzzes frighten and anger bicyclists because they create dangerous situations. Creation of the fear and anger is usually unintentional by most motorists due to simple lack of awareness, but some of them pass at high speeds and closely on purpose. Sometimes accidents occur. Over 600 bicyclists were killed or injured in Virginia in 2013. Bicyclists don’t have the protection of a steel body around them. They don’t have air bags or seat belts either. Other than a helmet, they’re unprotected and much more vulnerable to serious injury than drivers or occupants of cars, trucks or SUVs.
A driver in violation of the three foot clearance law can be cited. If found guilty, minimum fines and court costs would total $81. Three to four points could be assessed against the guilty driver’s license. Virginia law enforcement officers have now been trained on accurately determining a three foot distance between a motor vehicle and a bicycle.
On narrow roads, drivers are required to wait for a chance to pass the bicyclist with three feet of clearance. Compliance even requires the motorist to cross a road’s center line. That also has to be done safely.
The Virginia Bicycling Federation is now looking at both safe following and door opening laws. Both failed in previous legislative sessions. If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact Kamerow Law today at 703-370-8088