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Altamonte Springs Police Department
Wednesday September 15th, 2010 :: 03:29 p.m. EDT


Who Does Florida Give The Right of Way To? See email for full story.

Good afternoon Nixle readers, hope your day is going well. Before we begin today’s safety lesson allow me to remind you of our on-going challenge to reach the 500 mark of registered Nixle participants by October 9th. Have you done your part and signed up at least one family member and/or friend? Remember the person does not have to reside or work in Altamonte Springs to take advantage of this great service.

Today’s lesson comes from a suggestion of one our readers named Shelly. Shelly is an avid bicyclist who reports she has had several close calls of colliding with other vehicles at intersections over her lifetime. Shelly would like to know who has the right of way according to Florida law. In addition Shelly wants to spread a safety message of the importance of sharing our roadways. Great suggestion Shelly, let’s get started!

So who does have the right of way in the State of Florida? If you ask my wife she would respond the innocent creatures of the world like squirrels, armadillos, and even snakes. Actually the correct answer is no one has the exclusive right of way. The law states every driver, motorcyclist, moped rider, bicyclist, and pedestrian must do everything possible to avoid a crash. However the law does provide specific examples of who must give up the right of way in specific situations. For instance, you come upon a stop sign at the same time as another driver on a cross street and he is on your right. You must yield (give up) the right of way to that driver by letting him go first.

Pedestrians generally have the right of way at intersections and crosswalks; however no pedestrian shall leave the curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. Bicycles, since they are considered “vehicles,” are subject to the same rules as other drivers; they are not always granted the right of way. Everyone must, of course, yield the right of way to emergency vehicles at all times.

Let’s take a look at a real scenario based here in Altamonte Springs that causes some drivers confusion. Picture yourself driving down Central Parkway heading west towards Montgomery Rd. As you arrive at the intersection of Central Pkwy and Montgomery Rd you intend to turn right and the traffic control signal is currently red. Yes, it’s true a motorist is permitted to turn right on red as long as no sign permits the turn, however the driver must first come to a complete stop and only proceed when it is safe to. This particular intersection requires a heightened awareness by motorists as it hosts a main crossing of the Seminole Wekiva Trail. Therefore motorist should be on alert and must yield the right of way to joggers, walkers, bicyclists, baby strollers, roller bladders, skateboards, ripsticks, heelys, go peds, and whatever new “hot item” comes out this holiday season that I’ll kick myself for not thinking of!

Here’s a twist to the previous scenario. This time your driving north on Montgomery Rd (heading towards SR 434) approaching Central Pkwy. You have a solid green light and you observe Little Johnny crossing the roadway in the crosswalk on his skateboard. Little Johnny has made it halfway across however as you approach he is in your direct path of travel. You should know that Little Johnny had a red “No Crossing” symbol illuminated at the crosswalk. As the motorist, do you have the right of way? The correct answer is yes. You do have the right of way and Little Johnny is in violation of disobeying an official traffic control device; however, before you begin your celebration dance for getting the correct answer you should know that Little Johnny is protected by Florida statute 316.130 which states, “Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously incapacitated person.” Therefore if a crash was to occur both Little Johnny and the driver could be held equally responsible as the at-fault party. Remember a green light does not mean go – rather proceed with caution.

Now for all the marbles let’s see if you can get this answer right. Let’s say Little Johnny was crossing at an intersection which was not controlled by any official traffic control devices. Mr. Motorist strikes Little Johnny who is halfway in the crosswalk, who is at fault? The correct answer is Mr. Motorist is 100% at fault. This difference in this scenario is that a pedestrian has the exclusive right of way when crossing in a crosswalk at an intersection not controlled by any traffic control devices.

You may have noticed an increase in the amount of bicycles on our roadways. As the economy struggles bike riding is being turned too not only as a form of recreation and exercise but also as a main means of transportation to and from the workplace. In tomorrow’s article we will focus on the rights and responsibilities of motorists and bicyclist sharing the roadway.

Have a great night!

Altamonte Springs Police Department
175 Newburyport Ave
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 407-339-2441

Lt Darin Farber
COPS Section

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