Driving on on the Florida Turnpike

This section of the Florida Driver Handbook covers Speed Limits on Florida highways, the Florida Turnpike, Interstates, and other roads.

Topics included in this section of the Florida Driver Handbook include:

Florida Speed Limits

Speed causes many crashes. More drivers are convicted of speeding than any other offense. To avoid being fined or involved in a crash, obey the speed limits.

Speed is very important in a collision. If you double the speed of a car, you increase its force of impact four times. If you triple the speed, the impact is nine times as great.

70 Does Not Always Mean 70

Remember that speed limits show the fastest speed you may drive under good conditions. You are responsible for adjusting your driving speed to the road conditions. For example, if the weather is bad or there is a lot of traffic, you must drive more slowly than the posted speed. The safe speed is the one that allows you to have complete control of your vehicle.

Florida "Standard" Speed Limits

  • Municipal Speed Areas . . . 30
  • Business or Residential Area . . . 30
  • Rural Interstate . . . 70*
  • Limited Access Highways . . . 70
  • All Other Roads and Highways . . . 55*
  • School Zones . . . 20

*The 55 MPH maximum speed limit is still in effect in Florida except where otherwise posted. *Speed limits are 70 MPH on some rural interstate highways. Speed limits may be changed on other multi-lane highways and in areas where the conditions require lower speeds. Drivers should not assume because the area appears to be a particular urban, municipality, business or highway area that the speed is the standard or expected speed zone. Observe and obey the posted speed signs as there may be frequent changes from area to area along the selected roads or highways.

Driving Too Slowly is also Against the Law

Drive with the flow of traffic (within the speed limit). You should not drive so slowly that you block other vehicles moving at normal, safe speeds. You can be issued a ticket for driving too slowly. When the posted speed limit is 70 mph, the minimum speed limit is 50 mph.

Following Officer's and Fireman's Instructions

If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, pull off immediately to the extreme right, clear of traffic when possible. Turn off your engine. Reduce your headlights to the parking light position at night. Sit calmly and follow the instructions of the officer. You must follow any lawful order or direction of (1) any law enforcement officer or (2) any fireman at the scene of a fire who is directing traffic. If a law enforcement officer is directing traffic where there are signal lights, obey the officer — not the signals.

Crossing Intersections

More crashes happen at intersections than any other place. Be very careful when approaching any intersection or driveway.

  • Look both ways and be ready to brake or stop.
  • Drive at the slowest speed just before entering the intersection, not while crossing.
  • Do not pass or change lanes.
  • Be aware of vehicles behind you. Will they be able to stop if necessary?

If you are stopped, look for bicyclists and pedestrians who may be crossing the intersection from either direction.


Stay a safe distance behind the vehicle you want to pass. The closer you get to the vehicle you want to pass, the less you can see ahead. This is especially true when passing trucks, trailers, and other large vehicles. Before you pull out to pass, check your blind spots and make sure that you have plenty of time and room to pass.


On a two-lane road, tap your horn, or at night blink your headlights to let the other driver know you are passing.


  • Give your signal before you move into the left lane.
  • Do not return to the right side of the road until you can see the tires of the vehicle you passed in your rearview mirror.
  • You must return to the right side of the road before coming within 200 feet of any vehicle coming from the opposite direction.
  • Passing on the right is only legal when there are two or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction or the vehicle you are passing is making a left turn. Pulling off the roadway to pass on the right is against the law.

Being Passed

  • The driver of the car being passed must not increase speed until the pass is complete.
  • Help other drivers pass you safely. Move to the right side of your lane to give them more room and a better view of the road ahead.

When You May Not Pass

You may not pass on a two-lane road with traffic moving in opposite directions under these conditions:

Do Not Pass

  • Where you see a "DO NOT PASS" or "NO PASSING ZONE" sign.
  • Where a solid yellow line is painted on your side of the center line.
  • On hills or curves.
  • At intersections.
  • Within 100 feet of a bridge, viaduct, tunnel, or railroad crossing.

Violators may be arrested or issued a ticket.

Minimum Safe Following Distances

Leave plenty of space between you and the car ahead. If it stops quickly, you will need time to see the danger and stop.

Using the Two-Second Rule

At any speed, you can use the two-second rule to see if you are far enough behind the car in front of you:

  • Watch the vehicle ahead pass some fixed point — an overpass, sign, fence corner, or other marker.
  • Count off the seconds it takes you to reach the same spot in the road ("one thousand and one, one thousand and two...").
  • If you reach the mark before you finish counting, you are following too closely. Slow down and check your following distance again.

The two-second rule applies to any speed in good weather and road conditions. If road or weather conditions are not good, double your following distance. You should also double your following distance when driving a motor home or towing a trailer.

Following Distance For Trucks

A truck or any vehicle towing another vehicle may not follow within 300 feet of another truck or vehicle towing a vehicle. This law does not apply to overtaking and passing, and it does not apply within cities or towns.

Expressway Driving

Expressways — also called interstate highways, freeways, and turnpikes are multiple-lane roads with no stop signs, traffic lights, or railroad crossings. For these reasons, expressways can give you a fast, safe way to get where you need to go.

Pedestrians, hitchhikers, bicycles, animal-drawn vehicles or motor-driven cycles and motor scooters with 150 cubic centimeter displacement or less are not allowed on expressways.

Entering and Leaving Expressways

Vehicles can enter and leave expressways only at certain points. Because expressway traffic is usually moving at or close to the maximum speed allowed, you need to know how to enter and exit safely.

All expressway entrances have three basic parts: an entrance ramp, an acceleration lane, and a merging area. Follow these guidelines to enter an expressway safely:

  • On the entrance ramp, begin checking for an opening in traffic. Signal for your turn.
  • As the ramp straightens into the acceleration lane, speed up. Try to adjust your speed so that you can move into the traffic when you reach the end of the acceleration lane.
  • Merge into traffic when you can do so safely. You must yield the right-of-way to traffic on the expressway. You cannot always count on other drivers moving over to give you room to enter, but do not stop on an acceleration lane unless traffic is too heavy and there is no space for you to enter safely.

When leaving an expressway:

  • Get into the exit lane. Posted signs will tell you which one. Most expressway exits are from the right lane.
  • Signal your intention to leave the expressway by using your turn signal.
  • Slow down as soon as you are off the expressway. Check the posted safe speed for the exit ramp.
  • Do not make last-minute turns into an exit. If you go past your exit, you must go to the next one.

Expressway Safety Reminders

  • Plan your trip. Know just where you will get on and get off.
  • Drive in the right lane and pass on the left. If there are three lanes, use the right lane for lower speed driving, the left for passing. If you stay in the right lane, watch for cars entering the expressway. Adjust your speed or move into the center lane so they can enter safely.
  • Never stop on the pavement, shoulder, or connecting ramp of an expressway except in an emergency. If your vehicle breaks down, it may be parked on the side of the expressway (completely off the pavement) for no more than six hours. Raise your hood and tie a white cloth to your antenna or left door handle to show you need help.
  • Never back up on an expressway entrance ramp or exit ramp. The only exception to this would be if you are trying to enter an expressway through an exit. In this case, you would see a "WRONG WAY" or "DO NOT ENTER" sign. Then you must back up or turn around.
  • Do not cross, drive on or park on the median strip.
  • Do not follow too closely. Rear end collisions are the greatest danger on expressways. Always leave room for emergency stops.
  • Stop driving when you feel tired. On long trips the hum of the engine and your lack of movement can make you feel sleepy. Stop for a cup of coffee, a short walk, or a nap. Do not risk falling asleep at the wheel.

Night Driving

Night Driving

You will need to drive with extra care at night. You cannot see as far ahead or to the side, and glare from oncoming cars can reduce your vision even more. Follow these guidelines for driving at night:

  • Use your headlights (low beam or high beam) between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
  • Low beam headlamps are only effective for speeds up to 20-25 MPH. You must use special care when driving faster than these speeds, since you are unable to detect pedestrians, bicyclists and others.
  • High beam headlights can reveal objects up to a distance of at least 450 feet and are most effective for speeds faster than 25 MPH.
  • Don't use high-beam headlights within 500 feet of oncoming vehicles.
  • If you are behind other vehicles, use low beams when you are within 300 feet of the vehicle ahead.
  • When leaving a brightly lit place, drive slowly until your eyes adjust to the darkness.
  • If a vehicle comes toward you with high beams, flash your lights to high beam and back to low beam once.
  • Don't look directly at oncoming headlights. Instead, watch the right edge of your lane. Look quickly to be sure of the other vehicle's position every few seconds.
  • Drive as far to the right as you can if a vehicle with one light comes toward you.