Officer Must Witness Incident

Question

Joe asked: I ride my bicycle to work and back each day. Most of the commute is on rural roads with a wide shoulder but not technically a marked bike lane. This morning, while I was riding on the shoulder a vehicle pulled along beside me, slowed, and made a right turn which forced me into the ditch to avoid being run over. She stopped and said she thought I was further back and I should have seen her turning. The ride immediately preceding the incident was pretty rough so I can’t say whether or not she actually hit me. When the deputy sheriff arrived he said that since it wasn’t a crash he couldn’t do anything since he didn’t witness the incident. Does this sound right to you?

Answer

This is the applicable statute.

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 give an appropriate signal as provided for in s. 156, shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. 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.

Since violation of the statute above is a non-criminal violation, what the officer stated is essentially correct. Normally an officer must witness the incident to properly evaluate the facts. If a crash occurs, an investigation can be initiated and witness statements are taken and other evidence is collected.

If you were not satisfied with the outcome, you could have asked for a superior officer to follow up on scene, or you could file a report after the fact with the sheriff’s office asking that they investigate.

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing
4 comments on “Officer Must Witness Incident
  1. Phil Leinbach says:

    Would video from a GoPro hold up in court or help to charge the driver?

  2. Sir Randall says:

    Would this not be applicable as well?

    Florida Statutes Section 316.130(15)
    “Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.”

    Was the driver exercising proper precaution by pulling directly across the cyclist’s path of travel?

  3. Geo says:

    Phil,

    Please see this post and Dwight’s comment in particular.

    http://flbikelaw.org/2013/11/video-evidence-of-traffic-law-violation/

  4. Jon Finch says:

    Ouch!! Thats bad!

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