The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is reminding drivers throughout the state to safely share the road with motorcycles, bicycles, and commercial vehicles.
The month of May is Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety Awareness Month. FLHSMV, along with its division of the Florida Highway Patrol, is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association, the Florida Trucking Association, and AAA – The Auto Group to spread the message of driving safely alongside motorcycles, bicycles, and large commercial vehicles.
FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes said, “Temperatures are increasing and so are the number of commuters on Florida roadways, especially vulnerable road users. On average last year, there were nearly 290 crashes per week involving a motorcycle or bicycle in Florida.”
“Sharing the road is everyone’s responsibility. Whether you operate a large truck, passenger vehicle, motorcycle, or bicycle, learn your role on the road and always make an effort to look out for one another,” said Rhodes.
Motorcyclists and bicyclists are vulnerable road users that can be hard to see. By law, drivers must give bicyclists a minimum of three feet of clearance when driving alongside or passing them. In 2021, there were 6,392 bicycle crashes and 182 bicycle fatalities in Florida.
In addition, drivers should never attempt to share the lane with a motorcycle. The motorcyclist is entitled to the entire lane. Last year, there were 8,625 motorcycle crashes and 583 motorcycle fatalities across the state.
“Motorists are reminded to stay alert and aware of their surroundings on the roadway and watch out for motorcycles and bicycles. Florida’s vulnerable road users need your help to ensure they arrive to their destinations safely,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol.
In June 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 950 into law. The new legislation aims to make roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The law, which went into effect on July 1, 2021, includes several new guidelines to help curb dangerous situations:
- No-passing zones do not apply to drivers who safely, and briefly, drive to the left of center of the roadway to overtake a bicycle, electric bicycle, other non-motorized vehicle, or a pedestrian.
- A vehicle making a right turn while overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction may do so only if the bicycle is at least 20 feet from the intersection.
- Bicyclists riding in groups, after coming to a full stop, may go through an intersection in groups of 10 or fewer, and riders may ride two abreast if certain conditions exit.
- The law defined the terms “bicycle lane” (any portion of a roadway or highway which is designated by pavement markings and signs for preferential or exclusive use by bicycles) and “separated bicycle lane” (a bicycle lane that is separated from motor vehicles by a physical barrier).
Jared W. Perdue, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary, P.E., said, “As warmer weather approaches, you will likely see more bicycles and motorcycles on the road taking advantage of Florida’s beautiful weather. FDOT reminds you that sharing Florida’s roadways is everyone’s responsibility. It is essential that everyone on the road exercise caution and be mindful of all road-users.”
Motorists are also reminded to safely share the road with commercial vehicles. Large trucks do not maneuver like passenger vehicles. Drivers are reminded to stay out of the “No Zone,” the blind spots in front, behind, and on both sides of commercial vehicles, and to never tailgate. Always pass on the left for maximum visibility and watch for wide turns.
“Large trucks have operating limitations including blind spots and long stopping distances, so it’s important for everyone to understand the ‘No Zone’ and pay attention while driving,” said Alix Miller, President and CEO of Florida Trucking Association.
For more information on the Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety Awareness Month: Share the Road campaign, visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles webpage.