Changing Lanes

Question

Kathy asked:  Vehicle traveling on 3 lane busy road in rush hour traffic. 2 way with turn lane in the middle for intersection with stoplight. Vehicle stopped at light and needs to get into turn lane (approximately 5 cars back).  Checked all mirrors with no oncoming traffic from the rear.  Inched out from a stop to get into turn lane.  Bicyclist has gotten in the lane on the driver’s side in the blind spot not a foot parallel to the car. As car turned into turn lane, bicycle and car collided. Does bicycle have right of way when all other traffic is stopped for a light and he is riding in my lane on my left side?

Answer

From the information you have provided, it is difficult to determine exactly what happened.  The cyclist may not report the details in the same way and we don’t have the benefit of unbiased witnesses.  The following are some comments and the statutes that apply.

You state that you checked your mirrors and there was no oncoming traffic from the rear, which apparently is not the case, since the cyclist was passing.

You indicated that you did not see the cyclist due to the blind spot in your mirrors. It is difficult to understand how you could determine that the cyclist was less than one foot from your vehicle if, as you stated, you didn’t see him. We are cautioned not to rely on our mirrors since they could be improperly adjusted, resulting in a blind spot.

Florida statutes require that we insure it is safe before changing lanes or moving left or right in the roadway.

s. 316.155When Signal Required

(1) No person may turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety…. in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.

s. 316.089Driving on Roadways Laned for Traffic

Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules, in addition to all others consistent herewith, shall apply:

(1) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.

s. 316.085Limitations on Overtaking, Passing, Changing Lanes and Changing Course

(2) No vehicle shall be driven from a direct course in any lane on any highway until the driver has determined that the vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which the driver desires to move and that the move can be completely made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the same direction.

It also isn’t clear why a cyclist would pass a motor vehicle on the left side with only one foot of clearance if the adjacent lane was clear, particularly if your left turn indicator was flashing, as is required for moving laterally in the roadway.

s. 316.155When Signal Required

….and then only after giving an appropriate signal….

A cyclist in the left turn lane with the intent to turn left is entitled to use the full lane.

s. 316.151 – Required Position and Method of Turning at Intersections

(1) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:

(b) Left Turn – ….A person riding a bicycle and intending to turn left in accordance with this section is entitled to the full use of the lane from which the turn may legally be made….

If in fact the cyclist was passing at a distance of less than one foot, he may not have been passing at the safe distance required by the statutes.

s. 316.083Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle

The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:

(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction …. shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance….

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing Tagged with: , ,
One comment on “Changing Lanes
  1. Frank says:

    “Busy road in rush hour”.
    Obviously not, if there was no traffic behind her.
    If I’m reading it correctly, the “middle” lane used for turning at the intersection was one of those with turn arrows on the ground…
    More than likely Karen was stopped and since there was no “traffic” coming behind her, the bicyclist that was approaching her car from behind and to the right, also so no traffic coming and as was coming up to her car, passed on the left into that (left) turn lane, and instead of taking the entire turn lane, decided to stay as far right in that lane, hence the “Foot parallel”, which would be hard to judge in a side mirror anyways.
    That is why, I ALWAYS take the FULL LANE WHEN TURNING on my bicycle, for twofold reasons…
    1.) Lets the other vehicles aware that I am actually turning left.
    2.) Gives me room to move EITHER left or right in that lane should the need arise because of obstacles in the road.
    From my experiences, most people driving in cars do not want to wait the extra couple of seconds for a bicyclist to make a turn.
    In fact, today on a related event, TWICE, I was stopped at a crosswalk, hit the button for the walk signal, it turned to green/walk, I started across and not only did a few cars make a turn in front of me, (instead of waiting for me to cross), but once I got to almost the other side, the turning cars did NOT want to give me the right of way.

    We must learn to SHARE the road AND become more educated as to what “driving a vehicle” actually entails.

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