Right of Way Laws

Sharing the Road

This section of the Florida Driver Handbook covers Right of Way on Florida highways, the Turnpike, and other roads. Right of way can be a confusing in situation such as 4 way stops, flashing red lights, and flashing yellow lights.

This section of the Florida Driver Handbook include:

Right of Way

Who has the right-of-way in Florida? The answer is no one! The law only says who must yield (give up) the right-of-way. Every driver, motorcyclist, moped rider, bicyclist and pedestrian must do everything possible to avoid a crash.

Stop Signs

You must yield the right-of-way to all other traffic and pedestrians at stop signs. Move forward only when the road is clear. At four-way stops, the first vehicle to stop should move forward first. If two vehicles reach the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left yields to the driver on the right.

Open Intersections

An open intersection is one without traffic control signs or signals. When you enter one, you must yield the right-of-way if:

  • A vehicle is already in the intersection.
  • You enter or cross a state highway from a secondary road.
  • You enter a paved road from an unpaved road.
  • You plan to make a left turn and a vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction.

When two cars enter an open intersection at the same time, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right.

Roundabouts

Roundabouts are a new type of intersection which improve traffic flow and reduce traffic crashes. Most roundabouts do not require stopping, which allows vehicles to move continuously through intersections at the same low speed. Roundabouts are designed to move all traffic through a counterclockwise direction. Vehicles approaching the roundabout yield to circulating traffic, however, drivers must obey all signs to determine the correct right-of-way in the roundabout.

Safety Rules for Pedestrians

  1. Look to the left and the right before stepping off any curb.
  2. Cross only at intersections or designated crosswalks. Drivers are always more alert for pedestrians when they approach intersections.
  3. Cross with the green light or "WALK" signal. Make sure you have enough time to cross. Although the motorist must yield, the motorist may not see you in time.
  4. While walking along a highway, always walk on the shoulder on the left side, facing traffic. Wear light colored clothing or use a flashlight to make you more visible to drivers at night.

Pedestrians

It is the motorist's responsibility to do everything possible to avoid colliding with any pedestrians. Bicyclists, skaters and skateboarders in a crosswalk or driveway are considered pedestrians. Turning motorists must yield to pedestrians at intersections with traffic signals. Motorists must yield to pedestrians crossing the street or driveway at any marked mid-block crossing, driveway or intersection without traffic signals.

Bicyclists

In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists using a public roadway are considered operators of motor vehicles and are responsible for observing traffic laws. With few exceptions, there is only one road and it is up to motorists and bicyclists to treat each other with care and respect. Adherence to the law is the foundation of respect.

Blind Persons

The primary traveling aids for a person who is blind are often a white cane or a trained guide dog. Independent travel involves some risk that can be greatly reduced when you, the driver, are aware of the use and meaning of a white cane or guide dog.

Drivers must always yield the right-of-way to persons who are blind. When a pedestrian is crossing a street or highway guided by a dog or carrying a white cane (or a white cane with a red tip), vehicles must come to a complete stop.

Mobility-Impaired Persons

Drivers must yield the right-of-way to mobility-impaired persons and pedestrians utilizing the assistance of a guide dog or service animal. When a pedestrian is crossing a public street or highway and the pedestrian is using a walker, a crutch, or an orthopedic cane or wheelchair, vehicles must come to a complete stop.

School Buses

On a two way street or highway, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a stopped school bus which is picking up or dropping off children. You must always stop if you are moving in the same direction as the bus and you must remain stopped until the bus stop signal is withdrawn.

If the highway is divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide, you do not have to stop if you are moving in the opposite direction of the bus. Painted lines or pavement markings are not considered barriers. You must always stop if you are moving in the same direction as the bus and you must continue until the bus stop signal is withdrawn.

School Crossings

Crossing guards are posted in areas when it is unsafe for children to cross alone. When you see a guard, reduce your speed. You are near a school and children are in the area. Watch for school zone posted speed limit. If necessary, stop at the marked stop line. Never stop in the crosswalk. Obey signals from any crossing guard. It is the driver's responsibility to do everything possible to avoid colliding with pedestrians. Remember that children are unpredictable. Do your part to make every crossing a safe crossing.

Public Transit

All drivers should yield the right-of-way to public transit buses traveling in the same direction which have signaled and are reentering the traffic flow from a specifically designated pullout bay.

Funeral Processions

Pedestrians and drivers must yield the right-of-way to funeral processions. When the first vehicle in the funeral processions lawfully enters an intersection, other vehicles in the procession must have their headlights on as a signal to other drivers not to drive between or interfere with the procession while it is in motion unless directed to do so by a law enforcement officer.

Driveways

Drivers entering a road from a driveway, alley or roadside must yield to vehicles already on the main road. Motorists must yield to bicyclists and pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Emergency Vehicles

Pedestrians and drivers must yield the right-of-way to law enforcement cars, fire engines and other emergency vehicles using sirens and/or flashing lights. Pull over to the closest edge of the roadway immediately and stop until the emergency vehicle has passed. Do not block intersections.

"Move Over"

When driving on interstate highways or other highways with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency vehicle, and except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, drivers approaching a law enforcement or other authorized emergency vehicle parked on the roadway with their emergency lights activated, will be required to leave the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, as soon as it is safe to do so.

Note: Emergency vehicles include wreckers that are displaying their amber rotating flashing lights and performing a recovery or loading on a roadside.

When approaching a law enforcement or other authorized emergency vehicle parked on a two-lane roadway with their emergency lights activated, and except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, drivers will be required to slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or greater; or travel at 5 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less.

Sharing the Road with a Truck

Whether you are sharing the road with a car, truck, bus, or other large vehicle, it’s important for safety’s sake to obey traffic laws, abide by the rules of the road, and drive defensively. Are there any special rules for sharing the road with a truck? Yes! Here are some suggestions from professional truck drivers.

The No Zone

  • Blind Spots. Although most large vehicles have several rearview mirrors, it is easy for a car or motorcycle to be hidden in a large vehicle's blind spot. Do not follow closely behind a truck or a bus. When driving near a large vehicle, be aware of the driver's blind spots on the right, left, front and behind.
  • Rear Blind Spots. Unlike passenger cars, trucks and buses have deep blind spots directly behind them. Tailgating greatly increases your chances of a rear-end collision with a commercial vehicle.
  • Unsafe Passing. Another "No Zone" is just in front of trucks and buses. When passing a bus or truck, be sure you can see the cab in your rearview mirror before pulling in front.
  • Wide Right Turns. Truck and bus drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left in order to safely negotiate a right turn. They cannot see cars directly behind or beside them. Cutting in between the commercial vehicle and the curb or shoulder to the right increases the possibility of a crash.
  • Backing Up. When a truck is backing up, it sometimes must block the street to maneuver its trailer accurately. Never cross behind a truck that is preparing to back up or is in the process of doing so. Remember, most trailers are eight and a half feet wide and can completely hide objects that suddenly come between them and loading areas. Automobile drivers attempting to pass behind a truck enter a blind spot for both drivers.

Passing

  • When passing a truck, first check to your front and rear, and move into the passing lane only if it is clear and you are in a legal passing zone. Let the truck driver know you are passing by blinking your headlights, especially at night. The driver will make it easier for you by staying to the far side of the lane.
  • On a level highway, it takes only three to five seconds longer to pass a truck than a car. On an upgrade, a truck often loses speed, so it is easier to pass than a car. On a downgrade, the truck’s momentum will cause it to go faster, so you may need to increase your speed.
  • Complete your pass as quickly as possible, and don’t stay alongside the other vehicle.
  • If the driver blinks his lights after you pass, it’s a signal that it is clear to pull back in. Be sure to move back only when you can see the front of the truck in your rear-view mirror. After you pass a truck, maintain your speed.
  • When a truck passes you, you can help the truck driver by keeping to the far side of your lane. You’ll make it easier for the truck driver if you reduce your speed slightly. In any event, do not speed up while the truck is passing. After passing, the truck driver will signal to let you know that the truck will be returning to your lane.
  • When you meet a truck coming from the opposite direction, keep as far as possible to the side to avoid a sideswipe crash and to reduce the wind turbulence between the two vehicles. Remember that the turbulence pushes the vehicles apart, it does not draw them together.

Following a Truck

  • In general, trucks take slightly longer than cars to stop because of their size. However, at highway speeds or on wet roads, trucks may have better traction and stability allowing them to stop more quickly. A car following too closely may not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid rear-ending the truck.
  • If you are following a truck, stay out of its "blind spot" to the rear. Avoid following too closely, and position your vehicle so the truck driver can see it in his side mirrors. Then you will have a good view of the road ahead, and the truck driver can give you plenty of warning for a stop or a turn. You will have more time to react and make a safe stop.
  • When you follow a truck at night, always dim your headlights. Bright lights from a vehicle behind will blind the truck driver when they reflect off the truck’s large side mirrors.
  • If you are stopped behind a truck on an upgrade, leave space in case the truck drifts back slightly when it starts to move. Also, keep to the left in your lane so the driver can see that you’re stopped behind the truck.

Sharing the Road with a Bicycle

  • Allow three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist. Reduce your speed if the roadway is narrow.
  • After parallel parking, check for bicyclists before opening a street-side door.
  • At night, avoid using high beam headlights when a cyclist is approaching. The cyclist could be temporarily blinded.
  • Do not follow a cyclist closely. If you are too close and the cyclist must lay their bike down on the road in an emergency, you could run them over.

Sharing the Road with a Motorcycle

  • When you follow a motorcycle, remember that motorcycles have the ability of stopping much more quickly than other vehicles in emergencies. Following too closely endangers your life and that of the motorcyclist. Do not follow a motorcyclist closely.
  • Watch for motorcycles before turning and yield right of-way.
  • Include motorcycles in your visual search pattern.
  • Do not share the lane with a motorcycle. The motorcyclist needs the room to maneuver safely and is entitled to the entire lane.
  • When your automobile is being passed by a motorcycle, you should maintain your lane position and speed. Allow the motorcycle to complete the maneuver and assume proper lane position as quickly as possible.
  • Do not follow the cyclist closely. Motorcycles can stop in a shorter distance than a car.
  • In traffic, especially in inclement weather or under certain road conditions, motorcycles operate differently than other vehicles. Wind gusts can move a motorcycle across an entire lane. Wet or icy roads impair a motorcyclist's ability to brake and maneuver. Potholes or railroad tracks often require motorcyclists to change positions within their lane. Gravel roads decrease traction and may cause a rider to slow down or brake where a car would not.