A Refresher on Florida Driving Laws

By Cristi McKee

It’s not uncommon to hear people around town talking about the hectic drive they experienced on their way somewhere in Tallahassee. As busy people who drive every day, we often think of ourselves as top-notch drivers who follow all the rules of the road. Some drivers, however, do not. Take a look at these most commonly forgotten (or disregarded) road rules in Florida for a refresher on what laws apply to you when driving.

Turn signals are not optional — Contrary to popular belief, turn signals are to be used whenever a driver makes a turn or changes a lane—not just when one is bored or feeling particularly considerate. Section 316.155 of the Florida Statutes says to allow 100 feet of active signaling before making turns/changing lanes, and only should be done when “such movement can be made with reasonable safety.”

Stop signs mean stop your car — When you come upon a stop sign, it is in your best interest to come to a complete stop before continuing your drive. In section 316.123 of the Florida Statutes, it is said that, “every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line.” Yes, even if there is nobody watching.

U-turns are sometimes illegal — You missed your turn and are already late to your outing, but a convenient spot that appears to be the perfect place to make a u-turn is up ahead. But, wait, there is a “no u-turn” sign impeding your progress! Should you go for it anyway? According to section 316.1515 of the Florida Statutes, u-turns are only legal when “such movement is not prohibited by posted traffic control signs” and when “such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic.”

Only some left turns on red are legal — Not following road rules regarding traffic lights often result in dangerous, sometimes even fatal, car accidents. Because of this, is is important to know that most times, turning left when the traffic light is red is illegal. The State of Florida notes, “some intersections display a “NO TURN ON RED” sign, which you must obey. Left turns on red from a one-way street into a one-way street are also allowed.”

Only some right turns on red are legal — Similarly, not every intersection allows right turns when the traffic light is red. The State of Florida says, “A red RIGHT arrow means that you must come to a complete stop at the marked stop line or before moving into the crosswalk or intersection. After stopping, you may turn RIGHT on the red arrow at most intersections if the way is clear. Some intersections display a “NO TURN ON RED” sign, which you must obey.”

You can’t pull out in front of other cars just because you want to — This action is seen all over town, but did you know it’s illegal? The State of Florida recalls right-of-way and yielding laws: “An open intersection is one without traffic control signs or signals. When you enter one, you must yield the right-of-way if: A vehicle is already in the intersection. You enter or cross a state highway from a secondary road. You enter a paved road from an unpaved road. You plan to make a left turn and a vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction. When two cars enter an open intersection at the same time, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right.”

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