Crossing Double Yellow Lines

Question

Mark asked: Recently I was pulled over and given a warning for crossing a double yellow line at my school.

The problem occurs when some people drop their kids off at the “car drop off point” while others go park and walk their kids in to the school. The car drop off vehicles (nothing against them) creates a long line of stop and go traffic. These cars are on a roadway with a double yellow line. Most of the time people safely swing around these cars cross the double yellow line go a short distance, then return to the proper lane to access the parking lot. All of this is done at 10 mph or less. Now everyone will be forced to sit in a line. Passing on this double yellow line has been done for years with no problems (Police present) until now.

Would the car drop off vehicle fall under the obstructions statutes? Does the school zone change the rules?

Answer

We discussed crossing the double yellow line to pass a bicycle here:

http://flbikelaw.org/2009/07/passing-a-bicyclist-in-a-no-passing-zone/

Your question is similar. What is an obstruction and when can one cross the line to avoid it? A difference may be that there are many obstructions and passing them would require crossing the line for a prolonged period.

The statute is this:

s. 316.0875 – No Passing Zones

(2)  …. no driver shall at any time drive on the left side of the roadway with such no-passing zone ….

(3)   This section does not apply when an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway ….

What you describe seems to be considered an obstruction, which is not defined in the statute.

Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary

1. Something that obstructs, blocks or closes up with an obstacle or obstacles; obstacle or hindrance: obstructions to navigation.  Syn. 1. Barrier, bar, impediment.

I can find no exception to that statute in the other concerning “School Zones”.

s. 316.1895 – Establishment of School Speed Zones, Enforcement; Designation

Assuming there is no oncoming traffic or other reasons indicated in the “passing a bicyclist” link above, it seems the statute is clear and passing should be permitted.

It is recommended that you ask the school to work with the local police to clarify the situation. They would probably appreciate your volunteering to act as the spokesman in resolving this matter.

You could also go directly to the police with the statute in hand and ask them to address it.

Either way, all concerned should be notified of the policy, which would be facilitated by your letter to them asking for a written reply, rather than just a verbal statement.

Longer range, you may want to investigate whether a pull-off lane can be installed for the drop-off vehicles.

One comment on “Crossing Double Yellow Lines
  1. The problem with using Florida’s “obstruction” exception (s. 316.0875) to justify passing a (slowly moving) bicycle or other vehicle in a no-passing zone is that, if such passed vehicle is understood to be “obstructing” the roadway and is not disabled, its operator could be argued to be in violation of s. 316.2045, which makes it unlawful to “obstruct the free, convenient, and normal use of any public street, highway, or road…”

    As described at http://iamtraffic.org/engineering/crossing-double-yellow-line/#fn3 , at least two states (OH, WI) have adopted exceptions to their no-passing rules to allow passing a slow-moving vehicle (subject to the ordinary passing rules), and five states (ME, MS, CO, PA, UT) have exceptions specifically to allow passing a bicycle.

    HB 231, introduced for the 2015 session (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=53261 ), would amend s. 316.0875 to allow passing a bicycle in a no-passing zone in Florida; the ordinary restrictions on passing (s. 316.085) would still apply.

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