THREE FOOT RULE
To help avoid cars pushing Cyclists to close to edge of the road,
As of March 2018, 30 states have enacted 3-feet passing laws.
The penalty for violating the 3 foot Law in the state of Florida is a civil penalty typically entailing a monetary fine. The law requires motorists, who are passing the slower moving cyclist, to give the cyclist a cushion of safety of at least 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle.
Florida 3-Foot Law
s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle
(1)…. 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.
Florida 3 Foot Law Not Being Enforced
Bicycling advocates in Florida celebrated when our 3 foot law was passed and became law. But in many ways, the Florida 3 foot law’s potential benefit has not been helpful yet by its lack of enforcement. At the very least, the law seems to be enforced selectively – certain Florida counties issue many more citations than other counties.
If a driver hits a bicyclist in a bicycle lane or towards the side of the road, the driver most likely will be at fault for the accident and should be issued a traffic citation.
So How do you enforce the 3-foot Law
The "Vulnerable Road User" concept is a new and powerful tool — and it's taking root throughout the country.
9 states have laws that define a vulnerable user or vulnerable road user and provide stronger penalties for actions towards those vulnerable road users or when violations of traffic law lead to the serious injury or death of a vulnerable road user – Florida is not one of the nine.
A vulnerable road user (VRU) is anyone who is on or alongside a roadway without the protective hard covering of a metal automobile. The term includes bicycle riders, pedestrians, motorcyclists, people in wheelchairs, police, first responders, roadway workers and other users like a person on a skateboard or scooter.
The term is commonly used in relation to the argument state laws need to give sentencing judges more ability to up the punishment imposed on a driver who injures a vulnerable road user. Florida currently has no such law.
It is very common for a driver who kills or seriously injures a VRU to just be given a ticket for careless driving.
Many groups are working to have the Legislature pass a Vulnerable Road User law to give Florida judges the ability to impose jail time and increased fines in these cases where they are cited with only a moving violation.
Example of the Vunerable User Law:
INFLICTION OF SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH TO VULNERABLE ROAD USERS
Section 1: As used herein, the term “vulnerable road user” includes:
a person lawfully operating or riding any of the following on a public right-of-way, crosswalk, or shoulder of the highway:
- A Pedestrian
- a bicycle
- A farm tractor
- A skateboard
- A scooter
- A moped
- A motorcycle
- An electric personal assistive mobility device
- A wheelchair.
A person who operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner and causes serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable road user shall be guilty of infliction of serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable road user.
A person found to have committed an offense under this statute shall be required to either:
(a) have his or her driving privileged suspended for a period of no less than 6 months; and one or more of the following:
(1) pay a monetary penalty of not more than two thousand dollars; and/or
(2) serve a period of incarceration which may not exceed thirty days; and/or
(3) participate in a motor vehicle accident prevention course; and/or
(4) perform community service for a number of hours to be determined by the court, which may not exceed two hundred hours.
Why should you care?
The vast majority of VRU laws provide for increased fines or civil liability in cases where a vulnerable road user is injured or killed because of negligence or as the result of a traffic violation. These laws provide an incentive for safer driving practices, especially around cyclists and pedestrians.