Throughout the month of May, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles 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, Gov. 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 non-motorized 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.