Passing on the Left: What Does Florida Statutes Say?

A slow driver can be one of the most annoying things on the road! When you’re in a hurry, behind someone whose driving behavior, like sudden braking, is making you uncomfortable, or when you simply don’t want to be stuck behind someone who is driving under the speed limit, it is tempting to quickly zip around them. But before you make your move and pass someone on the road, keep Florida’s laws in mind.

What Does Florida Statute’s Say About Passing?

If you want to pass someone on the road in Florida, you should do it in the left-hand lane. Florida Statutes states that “no vehicle shall be driven in the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless . . . the left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic . . .”

That’s right – you shouldn’t even be driving in the left lane!  You are only supposed to get into the left lane to pass another vehicle or move out of the way of an obstacle. But look at the roads next time you’re out, and you’ll see that plenty of people use the left lane. This law is clearly not heavily enforced. Still, it’s generally a good idea to stay in a center lane until you have to move over.

What About Passing on the Right?

If you’re not technically supposed to be in the left-hand, what about passing on the right? Florida’s laws are a little more explicit about passing on the right: it’s not allowed! Passing on the right is generally against the law, except for in the following circumstances:

  • When the vehicle being overtaken is making or about to make a left turn
  • When a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parking vehicle is of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction
  • On a one-way street or upon any roadway where traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, if the roadway is free of obstruction and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles

To pass on the right at any other time could mean a noncriminal traffic infraction. But unsafe passing, no matter what side of the road, can have consequences beyond minor infractions.

The Dangers of Speeding Ahead

An example of the dangers of improper passing occurred this month in Zephyrhills. The accident occurred on August 19th when a vehicle traveling in the westbound lane sped up to pass a car in front of him on State Road 54. However, another vehicle was heading eastbound, and the two vehicles collided head-on. The driver in the passing vehicle was ejected from his car, and died at the scene. His young passengers survived, but were both hospitalized with serious injuries.  The two passengers of the other car were also killed in the collision.

Accidents such as these highlight the importance of always checking twice before moving to pass someone on the road. To avoid a tragic accident or a traffic infraction, remember these simple rules during your next drive:

How to Safely Pass a Vehicle on the Road

  • First, check to make sure it is legal and safe to pass. If there is a solid yellow line on the road, that means you are in a no-passing zone.
  • Be aware of any features of the road, like a curve, that might affect your ability to safely change lanes
  • Before passing, use your turn signal to alert others to your upcoming action
  • Double-check in your rearview mirror to make sure the coast is clear, and remember to watch out for drivers in your blind spot
  • Maintain your speed, and do not dramatically slow down or speed up while passing someone
  • Once you pass someone and want to move back into your original lane, use your turn signal again and smoothly go back into the lane

If you’re behind a slowpoke, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to safely pick up the pace. But remember to be safe and follow the law!

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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