Sunday, April 15, 2012

State of PA Implements a "4-Foot Rule." Should IL follow?

The State of Pennsylvania has implemented a "4-foot Rule" requiring drivers to have four feet of "buffer" between their motor vehicle and a bicyclist when passing. This is an entire foot (33%) MORE than what the current law in Illinois provides.

The "3-Foot Rule" in Illinois comes from sub-paragraph (d) of Section 11-703 of the Illinois Rules of the Road. This statute provides as follows:
(625 ILCS 5/11‑703) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑703)
Sec. 11‑703. Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter:

(d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a

bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.

Key language in the statute is obviously that there must be a minimum 3 feet between the bicycle and the motor vehicle when the motorist passes the bicycle. But note that the statute also requires that this distance of 3 feet must be maintained until the motorist is "safely past" the overtaken bicyclist.

But would "more" be "better?" Of course it would. Common sense dictates that the more distance between a motor vehicle and a vulnerable bicyclist the better. But whether its 3 feet, 4 feet or 10 feet, the real issue is adherence to the law and prosecution. Any bicyclist will tell you that some motorists like to "buzz" bicyclists and aggressively pass too close. Ideally with time motorist will be better educated. Also, police officers will become more aware of the law and start consistently writing tickets for the offense.

Keating Law Offices aggressively prosecutes cases involving injuries to bicyclists where the motorist "passed too close." If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.