The Three Feet for Safety Act went into effect on September 16, 2014. The law requires motorists to maintain a 3-foot buffer between themselves and bicyclists when they pass cyclists traveling in the same direction. If not enough space is available, the motorist must slow down and pass "when no danger is present to the bicyclist," according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Existing law requires drivers to pass while keeping a “safe distance,” but the new law establishes exactly what that distance is: 3 feet. The law requires drivers who pass cyclists from behind to keep their vehicles 3 feet away. But if traffic or roadway conditions prevent motorists from giving cyclists 3 feet of clearance, drivers must “slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent” and only pass when the cyclist will not be endangered. Violations are punishable by a $35 base fine, which comes to $154 with additional fees. Drivers who collide with cyclists and injure them while violating the law will be subject to a $220 fine.