A delicate balance between vehicles and pedestrians ensures safe and orderly travel in the vast web of Florida’s roads and highways. When it comes to the right of way, who has the upper hand? The answer might surprise you.
In Florida, it’s not about who has the right of way; it’s about who must yield it. This blog will delve into the intricate web of right-of-way rules in the Sunshine State, focusing on the regulations and responsibilities of various road users.
General Right of Way Rules in Florida
Florida’s right-of-way laws place the onus on all road users to prioritize safety above all else. Whether you’re a driver, motorcyclist, moped rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian, the overarching principle is simple: do everything within your power to prevent a collision. This shared responsibility forms the foundation of safe travel on Florida’s roads.
Right of Way at Stop Signs
At intersections controlled by stop signs, yielding the right of way is crucial to prevent accidents. The rule is clear: yield to all other traffic and pedestrians. Only proceed when the road is clear. For four-way stops, the vehicle that comes to a stop first has the privilege to move forward. In cases of simultaneous arrival, the driver on the left must yield to the one on the right.
Right of Way at Open Intersections
Open intersections, those without traffic control signs or signals, require careful navigation. The right of way must be yielded if another vehicle is already in the intersection. Additionally, it’s important to yield when entering or crossing a state highway from a secondary road, transitioning from an unpaved road to a paved one, or planning a left turn with an oncoming vehicle.
Right of Way at Roundabouts
Roundabouts, a modern solution to improve traffic flow and reduce crashes, introduce their right-of-way dynamics. In most cases, drivers don’t need to stop entirely, allowing for smoother traffic flow at a consistently low speed.
Remember, roundabouts move traffic counterclockwise. The rule is clear: vehicles entering the roundabout must yield to those already circulating but always obey road signs to determine the correct right of way.
Safety Rules for Pedestrians
Pedestrian safety is paramount in Florida. As a pedestrian, always remember to check left and right before crossing streets. Cross only at intersections or designated crosswalks, especially where drivers expect pedestrians.
When crossing, ensure you have a green light or “WALK” signal, as even though motorists should yield, they may not see you in time. On highways, walk on the left shoulder, facing traffic, and use reflective clothing or a flashlight to increase your visibility, especially at night.
Right of Way for Pedestrians
In the relationship between pedestrians and motorists, the responsibility to yield falls on the motorist. This includes scenarios where pedestrians may be bicyclists, skaters, or skateboarders crossing in a crosswalk or driveway.
At intersections with traffic signals, turning drivers must yield to pedestrians. However, the obligation remains for motorists to yield to pedestrians at marked mid-block crossings, driveways, or intersections lacking traffic signals.
Right of Way for Bicyclists
Florida defines bicycles as vehicles, emphasizing the need for cyclists to observe traffic laws. Mutual respect and adherence to these laws form the basis of a safe coexistence between motorists and bicyclists. In essence, there’s only one road, and it’s the duty of all to treat each other with care and respect.
Right of Way for Blind Persons
Individuals with visual impairments rely on white canes or trained guide dogs for safe mobility. To enhance their safety, drivers must always yield the right of way when a person who is blind is crossing a street or highway guided by a dog or carrying a white cane (or white cane with a red tip). In such cases, vehicles must come to a complete stop.
IX. Right of Way for Mobility-Impaired Persons
Yielding the right of way extends to mobility-impaired individuals and pedestrians utilizing guide dogs or service animals. Whenever a pedestrian is crossing a public street or highway and is using a walker, crutches, orthopedic cane, or a wheelchair, it’s mandatory for vehicles to come to a complete stop.
Right of Way for School Buses
Child safety is paramount when school buses are involved. On a two-way street or highway, all drivers moving in any direction must stop for a school bus to pick up or drop off children.
Remember to stop if you’re moving in the same direction as the bus and wait until the bus’s stop signal is withdrawn. If the road has a raised barrier or unpaved median at least five feet wide, no stop is necessary for vehicles moving in the opposite direction.
Right of Way for School Crossings
Crossing guards protect children at intersections where it’s unsafe for them to cross alone. Drivers encountering a crossing guard should reduce their speed, especially in school zones with posted speed limits.
Always stop at the marked stop line, never in the crosswalk, and obey signals from the crossing guard. It’s every driver’s responsibility to do everything in their power to avoid colliding with pedestrians, especially unpredictable children.
Right of Way for Public Transit
When sharing the road with public transit buses traveling in the same direction and reentering the traffic flow from a designated pullout bay, all drivers must yield the right of way. This ensures that buses can seamlessly rejoin the traffic stream, promoting public transportation efficiency and safety.
Right of Way for Funeral Processions
Funeral processions deserve the utmost respect from both pedestrians and drivers. When the first vehicle in a funeral procession lawfully enters an intersection, other vehicles within the procession must have their headlights on. This signals to other drivers not to drive between or interfere with the procession unless directed to do so by a law enforcement officer.
Right of Way for Driveways
Drivers entering a road from a driveway, alley, or roadside must yield to vehicles already on the main road. Additionally, it’s crucial to yield to bicyclists and pedestrians on the sidewalk. These practices promote smooth and safe traffic flow and pedestrian safety.
Right of Way for Emergency Vehicles
Emergency vehicles, such as law enforcement cars and fire engines, are crucial for public safety. When these vehicles use sirens and flashing lights, all pedestrians and drivers must yield the right of way. Pull over to the nearest edge of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle has passed. Never block intersections, as time is of the essence during emergencies.
“Move Over” Law
The “Move Over” law emphasizes safety on the road, especially when law enforcement or other authorized emergency vehicles are present. When driving on highways with multiple lanes in the direction of an emergency vehicle, drivers must leave the lane closest to the emergency vehicle as soon as it’s safe to do so. In the case of two-lane roadways, drivers should slow down to a specified speed limit, ensuring the safety of all involved.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer
In times of uncertainty on the road, it’s always good to know that there are professionals ready to assist you. If you find yourself in a car accident or need legal advice regarding right-of-way laws in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact a car accident lawyer serving Fort Lauderdale at Frankl Kominsky today, and let us guide you through the complexities of your case.
Our experienced team is dedicated to providing excellent service and support during challenging times. Whether you’re dealing with an insurance claim or seeking compensation for injuries, our lawyers will fight tirelessly on your behalf.
Give us a call at (561) 800-8000 and schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable car accident lawyers. We understand the importance of protecting your rights and getting the justice you deserve.