Passing Another Vehicle - Section 316.083, Florida Statutes

Passing other vehicles while driving occurs every day. We do it or have it done to us each time we drive. This is a breakdown of this seemingly benign law.

Keeping The Peace

For whatever reason it seems that there are always people that want to go faster than you. You can be going less than the speed limit, the speed limit, or more than the speed limit and still someone has to get where ever it is they are going sooner than your driving rate will allow.

Sometimes these people get upset or maybe it is just the way they drive. They tailgate you (prohibited under s.316.0895), driving seemingly only several inches from your rear bumper, or when they do pass they return to the lane you are in and come within inches of clipping the front end of your car.

My solution is to put some sticker on the back end of your vehicle that will give the reader pause and think you just may be crazy but that won't work on the real crazies. All you can do is drive defensively.

The Correct Way To Pass

Let's take a look at how the statute tells us how to pass:

The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall give an appropriate signal as provided for in s. 316.156, shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
Before we move on lets look at what the "appropriate signal" is the legislature is referring to so we are all on the same page. Section 316.156 states:

Any stop or turn signal when required herein shall be given either by means of the hand and arm or by signal lamps[.]
Okaaaay. That's pretty clear... Do they still teach hand signals anymore? Let's move on.

So after giving an appropriate signal "to pass" (?) we must then pass to the left (there is a section on when it is legal to pass to the right that I may or may not get to in this post) at a safe distance. I am assuming that a "safe distance" means more than several inches (you know who you are). Then we can return to the right side of the roadway once we have safely cleared the overtaken vehicle. Here I will assume that "safely cleared" means more than several inches also.

How Does This Section Translate So Far...

Basically, the idea the legislature wants to impart on those of us who drive motor vehicles is don't kill anyone when you pass them on the road. Always think - did I get in my car to cause an accident or was I just going to the grocery store (or any other destination where you may be going). Keeping that in mind, with the understanding that causing an accident can also hurt you, the idea is to drive safely. Despite the feeling of being rushed, physics teaches us that you can only go as fast as the vehicle that is directly in front of you.

What About The A-Hole That Speeds Up When I Try To Pass

We seem to have a tendency to accelerate as people go by us. We may not even be aware of it. The cure for this on limited access highways is to use cruise control. It is amazing to see how people speed up and slow down as they drive when you are on cruise control.

Then there are those that just don't want you to pass them for whatever unintelligent reason. They will knowingly accelerate so you cannot pass them at a comfortable speed. There is no rhyme or reason for this behavior but understand that it is prohibited by this law. Let's take a look:

Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle, on audible signal or upon the visible blinking of the headlamps of the overtaking vehicle if such overtaking is being attempted at nighttime, and shall not increase the speed of his or her vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
Yes, you read it correctly - by honking or flashing your headlights you are signaling the other driver that they need to move to the right. This is perfectly legal and if it occurs to us the law requires us to "give way to the right."

Additionally, and to the point of this heading, the driver of the overtaken vehicle "shall not" increase his or her speed until he or she is completely passed by the overtaking vehicle. If the driver decides to speed up it is a violation of the statute and he or she can be cited for it.

Preventing Another Motor Vehicle From Passing Can Be A Crime (Weird)

Even though s. 316.083 prohibits a driver from preventing another vehicle from passing upon penalty of a traffic ticket, this behavior is also a crime. Under section 316.191 "Racing On The Highway" preventing another vehicle from passing can be considered a violation of the racing statute and carries with it a 1-year mandatory license suspension.

Needless to say, there are a lot of issues with having both these laws on the books. Which one a person is cited under will make a huge difference on what penalties he or she must defend against. Rather than having to pay for the defense of such a dilemma it is just easier to drive safely and get to where you want to go without incident. 

Drive safe.

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