Florida TLSAE Course Module - Speed Laws and Right-of-Way

Speed Laws and Right-of-Way

Introduction

In this module you will learn about the speed laws and the rules for yielding the right-of-way in the State of Florida.

Some of the other subjects covered will be the Florida speed laws and speed laws for specifically designated areas.

You need to be prepared to know what to do when you share the roadway with other users. There are specific laws to follow when your driving environment includes:
  • Emergency vehicles
  • School buses
  • Funeral processions
  • Public transit
  • Open intersections
  • Roundabouts
  • Pedestrians
  • Bicyclists
  • Blind persons
  • Mobility-impaired persons
Introduction

This module introduces you to speed laws and right-of-way laws. The topics that will be covered include:
  1. Florida Speed Laws
  2. Intersection Right-of-Way - Stop Signs, Open Intersections, Roundabouts
  3. Emergency Vehicles
  4. Other Vehicles - School Buses, Public Transit, Funeral Processions, Driveways
  5. Pedestrians and Bicyclists

1. Florida Speed Laws

Basic speed laws exist to remind drivers that they must never drive faster than is safe for the present conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit. No matter what the speed limit sign may say, your speed should depend on the following factors:
  • The number and the speed of the other cars traveling on the road with you.
  • The condition of the road surface: smooth, rough, graveled, wet, dry, wide, or narrow.
  • The presence of bicyclists or pedestrians walking along the edge of the road.
  • The presence and amount of rain, fog, snow, ice, wind, or dust in the air.
Be careful, since it may actually be illegal to drive at the posted speed limit if weather, visibility, traffic, and roadway surface conditions adversely affect the driving environment.

The minimum speed laws exist to prevent you from traveling at such slow speeds that they block the normal and reasonable flow of traffic. The minimum speed limit on all highways that are four lanes or more is 40 mph. If the posted speed limit is 70 mph, the minimum speed limit is 50 mph (FS 316.183).

Unless otherwise posted, the following are the maximum speed limits for certain designated areas in Florida:
  • 30 mph in municipal speed areas
  • 30 mph in business or residential areas
  • 70 mph on rural interstate highways (limits may be changed on other multi-lane highways and in areas where the conditions require lower speeds)
  • 70 mph on limited access highways
  • 55 mph on all other roads and highways
  • 20 mph in school zones (FS 316.183, FS 316.187, FS 316.189, FS 316.1895)
You must observe and obey the posted speed signs. You may encounter frequent changes from area to area along the roads or highways. In special traffic lanes and construction zones, observe the signs for different posted speed limits.

Be aware that Florida laws stipulate that if you are cited for exceeding the speed limit by up to five mph in a legally posted school zone, you will be fined $50.

If you further exceed the speed limit in a school zone, you will pay a fine double the amount of normal fines for speeding. Fines for speeding in a construction zone where workers are present or operating equipment are double that of regular speeding penalties (FS 318.18).

Intersection Right-of-Way

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. You are allowed to 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 defined as 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 must yield the right-of-way if you enter or cross a state highway from a secondary road. You must yield the right-of-way if you enter a paved road from an unpaved road. You must yield the right-of-way if you plan to make a left turn and a vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction.

Roundabouts

A roundabout is a type of intersection that is unfamiliar to many drivers, yet more and more communities in Florida are using them. Roundabouts improve traffic flow and reduce the likelihood of traffic crashes. Most roundabouts do not require stopping, allowing vehicles to move continuously through intersections at the same low speed. Roundabouts are designed to move all traffic through in a counterclockwise direction. Vehicles approaching the roundabout yield to the circulating traffic in the roundabout, however, you must obey all signs to determine the correct right-of-way in the roundabout.

Emergency Vehicles

As a pedestrian or as a driver, you 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 to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. Do not block intersections.

Move Over Law

When you are driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes and are traveling in the same direction as an emergency vehicle is traveling; and, unless you are directed by a law enforcement officer and the law enforcement or other emergency vehicle is parked on the roadway with their emergency lights activated, you will be required to leave the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, as soon as it is safe to do so.

Take note that emergency vehicles include wreckers that are displaying their amber rotating flashing lights and performing a recovery or loading on a roadside.

If you are approaching a law enforcement or other authorized emergency vehicle parked on a two-lane roadway with their emergency lights activated, and unless you are directed by a law enforcement officer, you should 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 slow to five miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less (FS 316.126).

Other Right-of-Way Laws

If you are on a two-way street or highway, and moving in either direction, you must stop for a stopped school bus which is picking up or dropping off children. You must remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus stop signal has stopped. 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 has stopped (FS 316.172).

Public Transit

You should yield the right-of-way to a public transit bus traveling in the same direction which has signaled and is re-entering the traffic flow from a specifically designated pullout area.

Funeral Processions

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

Driveways

If you enter a road from a driveway, alley, or roadside, you must yield to vehicles already on the main road. You must yield to bicyclists and pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Safety Rules for Pedestrians

If you are a pedestrian, you should look to the left and the right before stepping off any curb. You should cross only at intersections or designated crosswalks.

Drivers are always more alert for pedestrians when they approach intersections. Always 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.

If you are walking along a highway, always walk on the shoulder on the left side, facing traffic. Try to wear light colored clothing or use a flashlight to make you more visible to drivers at night.

Bicyclists

If you ride a bicycle in Florida, your bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle. If you are riding using a public roadway, you are considered an operator of a motor vehicle and are responsible for observing traffic laws. With few exceptions, there is only one road and it is up to motorists and you to treat each other with care and respect. Adherence to the law is the foundation of respect.

Blind Persons

The primary traveling aids for people who are blind are often whites cane or trained guide dogs. Independent travel for these people 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.

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

Mobility-Impaired Persons

You must yield the right-of-way to mobility-impaired persons. 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, you must come to a complete stop.

Review/Summary

No matter what the speed limit sign may say, determine the safe speed to travel based on several factors. Be careful since it may actually be illegal to drive at the posted speed limit if weather, visibility, traffic, and roadway surface conditions adversely affect the driving environment.

There are special speeds posted for different areas such as municipal areas, business or residential areas, and rural areas and interstates. You must observe and obey the posted speed signs. If you are cited for exceeding the speed limit by up to five mph in a legally posted school zone, you will be fined $50.00. Fines for speeding in a construction zone where workers are present or operating equipment is double that of regular speeding penalties (FS 318.18).

In Florida, the law only says who must yield (give up) the right-of-way. You must yield the right-of-way to all other traffic and pedestrians at stop signs.

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. You must yield the right-of-way if you enter or cross a state highway from a secondary road. You must yield the right-of-way if you enter a paved road from an unpaved road.

Most roundabouts do not require stopping. They are designed to move all traffic through in a counterclockwise direction. Vehicles approaching the roundabout yield to the traffic in the roundabout.

As a pedestrian or as a driver, you 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 to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. Do not block intersections. Emergency vehicles include wreckers that are displaying their amber rotating flashing lights and performing a recovery or loading on a roadside. If you are approaching a law enforcement or other authorized emergency vehicle parked on a two-lane roadway with their emergency lights activated, 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 slow to five miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less (FS 316.126).

If you are on a two-way street or highway moving in either direction, you must stop for a stopped school bus which is picking up or dropping off children. 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.

Yield the right-of-way to public transit re-entering the traffic flow from a specifically designated pullout area.

As a pedestrian and driver, you must yield the right-of-way to funeral processions unless you are directed otherwise by a law enforcement officer. If you enter a road from a driveway, alley, or roadside, you must yield to vehicles already on the main road.

If you are a pedestrian, you should look to the left and the right before stepping off any curb, and cross only at intersections or designated crosswalks. Always cross with the green light or "WALK" signal. If you are walking along a highway, always walk on the shoulder on the left side, facing traffic.

In Florida, if you ride a bicycle on a public roadway, you are responsible for observing traffic laws. Remember, you must always yield the right-of-way to persons who are blind. You must also yield the right-of-way to mobility-impaired persons.





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