Right-of-Way Laws in Florida
December 14, 2023 | Sagi Shaked | Florida Law
Florida law goes into great detail when it comes to traffic control. The average driver probably doesn’t have every single traffic law on instant recall. But if you’re a driver, there’s one set of laws you should do your best to memorize — right-of-way laws.
These laws specify who has the right of way in almost every conceivable situation on the road. That level of detail might seem pedantic to some, but these rules are on the books for one very important purpose — preventing car accidents. Here’s what you need to know about right-of-way laws to keep yourself and others safe.
Who Has the Right of Way?
It would take many, many pages to cover every single right-of-way law in the Florida code. Here are some of the main right-of-way laws to keep in mind.
Intersection Right-of-Way Laws
If you pull up at an intersection with traffic signals, the right of way is a no-brainer; you just follow the traffic lights. However, open intersections (those with no traffic signals) are a little harder to navigate.
Here are some key rules to be aware of:
- If there is a car already in the intersection, yield the right of way to that car
- If you’re trying to make a left turn but a vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction, yield the right of way to the approaching car
- If you’re entering a paved road from an unpaved one, you need to yield the right of way
- If you and another car approach an open intersection at the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way
There might come a time when you can’t remember who has the right of way in a given situation. If you are unsure, it’s always wise to drive defensively to minimize your risk of a crash.
Roundabout Right-of-Way Laws
Roundabouts are essentially intersections where lanes of traffic merge into a circle (instead of crossing one another). At a roundabout, cars entering the roundabout must yield to cars that are already in it.
Roundabouts generally move counterclockwise, but there’s always the possibility of an exception. Always pay attention to and follow road signs at any roundabout you encounter.
Backing Up Right-of-Way Laws
This law is a relatively simple one. If a car is backing up, oncoming vehicles have the right of way. You probably run into this situation often; if you’re backing out of your driveway and a car is coming down the road, you stop and let the car pass before you continue backing out.
Parking Lot Right-of-Way Laws
Cars in parking lots aren’t moving as fast as cars on highways, but parking lots can still be dangerous. Fortunately, parking lot right-of-way laws are fairly straightforward. Cars must yield to pedestrians, and vehicles moving in through lanes (the spaces in between rows of parking spots) have the right of way over cars moving out of parking spots.
Emergency Vehicle Right-of-Way Laws
In Florida, if an emergency vehicle has a siren or flashing lights activated, you must yield the right of way. More specifically, if you’re being approached by an emergency vehicle, you must move to the side of the road and stop until it passes. However, if you are in an intersection, you must clear the intersection before stopping.
Why Florida’s Right-of-Way Laws Matter
There are more than 395,000 car accidents in Florida every year. But with no right-of-way rules, there would be even more. Even if you’re an experienced driver, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on driver right-of-way laws from time to time!