Remember: These safe passing distances are the MINIMUM passing distances, NOT the recommended passing distances.  When it comes to passing cyclists, MORE DISTANCE between a passing vehicle and a cyclist is always better!

The story explains what safe driving laws are, why you should care, who has them and who doesn’t, and where they come from. There is also a great spotlight section on New Hampshire, which has a great safe passing law:

Every driver of a vehicle, when approaching a bicyclist, shall ensure the safety and protection of the bicyclist and shall exercise due care by leaving a reasonable and prudent distance between the vehicle and the bicycle. The distance shall be presumed to be reasonable and prudent if it is at least 3 feet when the vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or less, with one additional foot of clearance required for every 10 miles per hour above 30 miles per hour. – N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §265:143-a.

This law touches on three important concepts, according to the story:

  • Due care – By saying that a driver must exercise due care the law creates a relationship of responsibility for the driver of a vehicle approaching a bicyclist. Language stating a due care requirement may make it easier for bicyclists to hold a driver liable if hit.
  • Defined distance – By stating that a reasonable and prudent distance is one of at least 3 feet the law makes it easy to publicize what is regarded as a safe distance and reinforces the most commonly required safe passing distance.
  • Variable distance – By stating that a reasonable and prudent distance is one that varies with increased speed, the law makes it clear that three feet is not an absolute. What is safe can vary depending upon speed and road conditions. Recognizing this is rare amongst state laws that define a safe distance.

Bicyclists and drivers in Elmira, Corning, Ithaca and the Twin Tiers, what do you think of the New Hampshire law? And what do you consider a safe passing distance?

Please comment below!

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with your fellow bicyclists!



James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
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