Ron asked: I just experienced a rather close call with a semi transporting a rather wide boat. The semi was immediately preceded by a “safety vehicle” with flashing lights, etc. I was riding the paved shoulder of SR40. The lead vehicle blared his horn as he passed me, inviting(?) me to get off the road. The wide loaded semi moved as far left as he could, but unfortunately he was meeting an oncoming “wide load” bulldozer. The boat did not miss me by much.
What are the responsibilities of the cyclist and the drivers involved in this situation?
The lead vehicle was not far in front of the semi, and had been obscured by another semi in front of him. (There was prior construction which released traffic in platoons, so all were close together.) Or is this a situation in which prudence should prevail? Is a “wide load” caravan allowed any special privileges?
Traffic laws are not suspended because a driver is transporting a wide load. The statute concerning wide loads does not mention other traffic laws.
s. 316.550 – Operations not in Conformity with Law; Special Permits
(1) An oversize or overweight vehicle or load thereon may not enter onto or be operated on a public road in this state unless the owner or operator of such vehicle has first obtained the special permit for such movement from the appropriate governing jurisdiction.
Drivers with wide loads are required to stop at red lights and stop signs, and obey other traffic laws. In an ideal world, the truck driver with a wide load approaching a bicyclist would obey the law and if necessary, slow or stop until the required three-foot minimum safe passing distance could be given before overtaking and passing.
s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle
(1) …. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.
That applies whether the bicyclist is in the roadway or on a paved shoulder. The truck driver is in violation if passing less than the required minimum of three feet.
Additionally, drivers must remain in a single lane when practicable, and if not in a single lane, must insure the movement can be made safely. A driver with a wide load that cannot physically remain within a lane is responsible for proceeding safely.
s. 316.089 – Driving on Roadways Laned for Traffic
(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.
The pavement lane markings are traffic control devices, and must be obeyed.
s. 316.074 – Obedience to and Required Traffic Control Devices
(1) The driver of any vehicle shall obey the instructions of any official traffic control device ….
The “due care” provisions in the laws also apply to the driver of a vehicle with a wide load.
s. 316.185 – Special Hazards
The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the prescribed limits shall not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed …. when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or other roadway conditions, and 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.
As we know, the laws are not always adhered to, so prudence is always advised.