Judy asked: If I am backing out of my driveway and a bicyclist is using the sidewalk, which crosses my driveway, which one of us has the right-of-way? Obviously, I look before I back out, but I have seen kids in my neighborhood who race up and down the sidewalks, where there are hedges, trees, etc., obstructing full views from a driver’s seat of an auto, and suddenly there is a car backing out of his own driveway, not even seeing that a kid is racing by on his bike. What does the law say?
Motorists must stop and yield to bicyclists and pedestrians when entering the roadway across a sidewalk area. Please see:
On the other hand, you have 316.130(8):
“No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a 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.”
Obviously this is intended primarily for crossing a street, but it could be argued that leaving the “protected” area of the sidewalk into the portion that crosses the driveway violates this if there is a motorist backing out such that their view of the sidewalk is blocked (thus it is impossible to yield). This may be a case where both people are partially at fault.
When there is a very specific statute that addresses the issue, as does the one linked above, it is unlikely that we could use that interpretation. It is never impossible to yield. If visibility is blocked, the burden is on the motorist to insure the statute is obeyed and that entering the sidewalk area is safe. That could easily be done by slowly creeping into the area, giving everyone time to respond appropriately.
It is similar to the responsibility we have when backing out of a parking space with a large SUV blocking our visibility.
Just because we can’t see a hazard doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility to obey the law. Drivers always have the responsibility to exercise “due care.”
s. 316.185 – Special Hazards
…. speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
s. 316.183 – Unlawful Speed
…. (e) Any special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.