Safe Passing Distance

Question

Joe the Bike Man asked: Is there a Florida Law about a minimum distance from a cyclist that a motorist should be when passing the bicycle?  Some state have what is a called a 4-foot or 5-foot law

Answer

Yes.

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, 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.

3 comments on “Safe Passing Distance
  1. Phil Leinbach says:

    Will this law EVER be enforced??

  2. Geo says:

    Phil,

    Enforcing this law is particularly problematic since it would require some type of calibrated distance measuring device to accurately assess three feet. Also, it would require a dedicated effort which may not be productive enough to be warranted.
    If there could be some manner of determining that the riders actions before a crash were appropriate and lawful, the law might be prima facie evidence of a violation.
    This is an example of a law passed without consideration of the law enforcement implications.

  3. Steve says:

    An FLPD officer came within a foot of me when I was ridding in a bike lane at the beach. When I caught him at the traffic light I tapped on his window and asked if he could give me three feet when passing. He pulled me over and tried to harass me, I guess he was not use to someone telling him what to do… I told him to read the yellow sticker on the back bumper of his patrol car 3 ft please. I’m guessing he didn’t think it applied to a cyclist in a bike lane. I told him the law does not say 3 ft here and 3 ft there it’s 3 feet period, no matter where in the road I’m ridding.

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