Throughout the month of May, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is reminding motorists statewide to safely share the road with motorcycles and bicycles in recognition of Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety Awareness Month. In addition, FLHSMV is providing drivers information to safely drive alongside large commercial vehicles. FLHSMV and 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 these important messages.
“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,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “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.”
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 – up from 158 bicycle fatalities in 2020. Additionally, 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 – up from 510 motorcycle fatalities in 2020.
“Motorists are reminded to stay alert and aware of their surroundings on the roadway and watch out for motorcycles and bicycles,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Florida’s vulnerable road users need your help to ensure they arrive to their destinations safely.”
In June 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 950 into law – new legislation aimed at making roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The new law, which went into effect 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, other nonmotorized vehicle, an electric bicycle, or a pedestrian.
- A vehicle making a right turn while overtaking and passing a bicycle 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.
- Additionally, the law defined the terms “bicycle lane” and “separated bicycle lane”:
- Bicycle Lane – Any portion of a roadway or highway which is designated by pavement marketing and signs for preferential or exclusive use by bicycles.
- Separated Bicycle Lane – A bicycle lane that is separated from motor vehicles by a physical barrier.
“As warmer weather approaches, you will likely see more bicycles and motorcycles on the road taking advantage of Florida’s beautiful weather,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “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.”
“Florida is a year-round tourist destination and is home to millions of residents and visitors alike. As you travel on our roadways, remember to ‘share the road’ with motorcycles, bicycles, and commercial vehicles so everyone can arrive alive,” said Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association. “The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Share the Road campaign saves lives, and on behalf of Florida’s sheriffs, I fully endorse this critical campaign.”
“The Florida Police Chiefs Association is proud to stand with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and our other public safety partners to urge everyone to Share the Road,” said FPCA president and Daytona Beach Shores Public Safety Department Director Stephan Dembinsky. “Drivers should especially remember to keep an eye out for bicycles and motorcycles, and give commercial motor vehicles plenty of space. On behalf of over 1,000 law enforcement executives around the state, we ask all motorists in Florida to Share the Road!”
In addition to motorcycles and bicycles, motorists are 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 never tailgate. Always pass on the left for maximum visibility and watch for wide turns.
“Florida’s trucking industry is committed to safety on our roadways, and we are proud to partner with FLHSMV to highlight how all motorists can share the road safely,” said Alix Miller, President and CEO of Florida Trucking Association. “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.”
“Space means safety when you properly Share the Road,” said Michele Harris, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Pay attention and allow everyone to get to their destination safely by giving all types of road users the room they need.”
Visit FLHSMV’s website for more information and resources for the Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety Awareness Month: Share the Road campaign. The public is encouraged to report dangerous drivers by dialing *FHP (*347).