Sharing the Road
Note: Practice quizzes are available only for those sections of the manual covering rules of the road (Chapters 4 through 11 and Road Signs).
You must learn to safely share the road with large vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, pedestrians, bicyclists, in-line skaters, roller skaters, slow moving vehicles and horseback riders. These other highway users face special problems, and they pose special problems for car and truck drivers. You should know how to safely deal with these problems and understand the special rules that apply to other highway users.
Pedestrians are the highway users most at risk in traffic. As a driver, you must use extra caution to avoid colliding with pedestrians. Regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, the law specifically requires you to exercise great care to avoid striking pedestrians.
Children are often the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children, especially near schools, bus stops, playgrounds, parks and frozen dessert vehicles such as ice cream trucks.
When backing your vehicle, remember to look through your rear window for pedestrians. Do not rely only on rearview mirrors. Before backing into, or out of, a driveway when children are near, get out of the vehicle and check behind it.
Pedestrians are supposed to walk on the side of the road facing traffic, so they should be on your right. Be especially watchful for pedestrians when you make a right turn.
Remember also that pedestrians legally crossing at intersections always have the right-of-way. Do not pull in front of or behind them or to "hurry them along" - wait until they are out of the intersection. Elderly and disabled pedestrians may require extra time to complete their crossings.
There is a special right-of-way law for blind pedestrians crossing the road with a guide dog or a white or metallic cane. You must always give them the right-of-way, even if the traffic signals or other right-of-way rules are not in their favor.
Remember to keep your eyes moving as you drive. Glance to either side every few seconds. This defensive driving rule will help you spot pedestrians near or approaching the roadway.
The law gives pedestrians some responsibilities too. They must:
Bicyclists, in-line skaters, and operators of non-motorized scooters have the right to share the road and travel in the same direction as motor vehicles. Like pedestrians, these roadway users are often difficult to notice in traffic, and have little protection from a traffic crash. When driving a motor vehicle, be sure to check your vehicle's "blind spots" before you parallel park, or open a driver's side door, or leave a curb. Don't rely only on your rearview mirrors - turn your head to look for bicyclists and in-line skaters that may be alongside or approaching.
When driving, approach bicyclists, in-line skaters, and non-motorized scooters with extreme caution. Give them room and slow down as you pass them. Air pressure from a quickly passing vehicle can throw them off balance.
Be aware that the bicyclist, in-line skater or non-motorized scooter near or in front of you may react to road hazards just as a motorcyclist would and suddenly change speed, direction, or lane position.
The rules of the road and right-of-way apply to, and protect, bicyclists, in-line skaters, and non-motorized scooters. You must yield the right-of-way to them just as you would to another vehicle. Bicyclists and in-line skaters must obey the rules of the road, just as vehicle drivers do.
Bicyclists and non-motorized scooter operators, and their passengers, and in-line skaters must wear an approved helmet if age one through 13 years old and obey any local laws or regulations concerning helmet use for adults.
A bicycle driven on public highways must be equipped with adequate brakes and a horn or bell that can be heard at least 100 feet (30 m) away. A bicycle used at night must have a headlight visible from at least 500 feet (150 m) ahead and a red taillight visible from at least 300 feet (90 m) behind. One of these lights must also be visible from at least 200 feet (60 m) away on each side. A bicycle sold by a dealer must have wide-angle, spoke-mounted reflectors or reflective tires, a wide-angle rear reflector and pedal reflectors.
For more information on bicycle and in-line skating regulations and safety, see the publication Sharing the Road Safely (C-77), available at any motor vehicle office and by request from a DMV Call Center.
Motorcycles travel as fast as automobiles, and motorcyclists must obey the same traffic laws. But motorcyclists also share problems faced by pedestrians, bicyclists, and in-line skaters: lower visibility, less stability, and less protection.
To improve their visibility, motorcyclists are required to keep their vehicle's headlights and taillights on at all times. For protection, motorcyclists are required to wear approved helmets, as defined by USDOT federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS218), and goggles or a face shield.
It is often hard to judge how far away a motorcycle is or how fast it is approaching. Many motorcycle crashes that involve other vehicles occur when the driver of the other vehicle misjudges the motorcyclist's speed or distance, or fails to see the motorcycle at all, and then stops or turns left in front of the motorcyclist.
On most motorcycles, the directional signal does not go off automatically after a turn. Before stopping or turning in front of a motorcyclist signaling a turn, be sure the motorcyclist is actually going to turn.
A motorcyclist has the right to the full use of a lane, and motorcyclists are allowed to ride two abreast in a single lane. An experienced motorcyclist will often change position within a lane to get a clearer view of traffic, avoid hazards and be more visible to drivers. You may not pass or drive alongside a motorcycle in the same lane, and a motorcyclist may not share a lane with you.
Take care when passing a motorcyclist. Like bicycles, motorcycles can be affected by the air pressure of passing vehicles.
Because motorcyclists must take extra precautions when they come upon special highway surfaces, you should be aware of what a motorcyclist may do in certain situations:
Limited use motorcycles, often called mopeds, are low speed, two-wheeled vehicles intended for limited use on public highways. There are three different classes of mopeds based on maximum performance speed. The chart below outlines the requirements for moped operation.
Class B and C mopeds may be driven only in the right lane of traffic, as far to the right as possible. Class A mopeds are allowed to drive in any lane, and any portion of a lane. Mopeds are not permitted on expressways or other controlled access highways unless posted signs permit it.
When approaching a moped, use the same precautions and care you would when approaching a bicyclist.
|GUIDE TO LIMITED USE MOTORCYCLE (MOPED) OPERATION|
|Top speed range mph (km/h)||Over 30 to 40
(Over 48 to 64)
|Over 20 to 30
(32 to 48)
|20 or less
(32 or less)
|Type of license or learner's permit required 4||M||ANY CLASS 4||ANY CLASS 4|
|Registration required||YES (A Plate)||YES (B Plate)||YES (C Plate)|
|Headlight to be on when operating||YES||YES||YES|
|Helmet & eye protection required when operating 5||YES||YES||Recommended|
|Where operation is permitted||Any Traffic Lane
Only 1 & Shoulder
|Right Hand Lane
Only 1 & Shoulder
|Right Hand Lane|
|Mandatory insurance required||YES||YES||Recommended 2|
|Safety responsibility 3 applies||YES||YES||YES|
|Annual inspection required||YES||Recommended||Recommended|
1 Except when making a left hand turn.
2 If a Class C limited use motorcycle is used in a rental business, insurance is mandatory.
3 Safety responsibility is the requirement to pay for or post security for damage or personal injury you may cause in traffic crash.
4 Usual learner's permit and junior license restrictions apply.
5 Motorcyclists must wear approved motorcycle helmets, as defined by USDOT federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS 218). To improve the motorcyclist's visibility, the DMV recommends that helmets have at least four square inches of reflective material on both sides. Motorcyclists must also wear approved eye protection, even if the motorcycle is equipped with a windshield. Prescription or made-to-order safety glasses may be used if the user can present written certification that they meet DMV standards. The eye protection must be manufactured in conformity with the regulations issued by the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission (VESC-8).
In more than 60 percent of all fatal crashes involving cars and big trucks, police report that the car driver, rather than the truck driver, contributed to the cause of the traffic crash.
Because these trucks are much bigger and heavier than cars, the driver of the car, not the truck, is killed in a fatal car-truck traffic crash four out of five times. However, many of these crashes could be avoided if motorists know about truck (and bus) limitations and how to steer clear of unsafe situations involving large vehicles.
Remember: Large trucks, recreational vehicles, and buses are not simply big cars. The bigger they are:
Unlike cars, large vehicles have deep blind spots directly behind them. They also have much larger blind spots on both sides than cars do. Tractors with long hoods may also have a blind spot of up to 20 feet directly in front of the vehicle. You should stay out of these "no zones."
Large vehicles have much larger blind spots on both sides than cars do. If you drive in these blind spots for any length of time, you cannot be seen by the vehicle's driver. Even if the vehicle's driver knows you are there, remaining alongside a large vehicle may hamper the driver's ability to evade a dangerous situation.
If you stay in the rear blind spot of a large vehicle, you increase the possibility of a traffic crash. The other driver cannot see your auto, and your view of the traffic will be cut off.
Large vehicles - especially tractor trailers - take considerably longer to stop than a car traveling at the same speed. The difference comes primarily from brake lag, which is unique to trucks. Air brakes which transmit braking power from the tractor to the trailer are subject to a lag that can add many feet to stopping distance. A good strategy is to leave plenty of space between your car and the truck. If you are driving in front of a truck, indicate your intention to turn or change lanes early. Avoid sudden moves.
Large vehicles are not designed to be as maneuverable as cars. They take longer to stop and to accelerate, and because of their size, they often need to swing wide to make their turns.
You can reduce the likelihood of a collision with a large vehicle if you:
Passing a large vehicle, especially a tractor-trailer or other combination vehicle, takes a longer time and requires more space than passing a car. On a two-way road, leave yourself more time and space when passing a large vehicle. Make sure you can see the whole front of the vehicle before returning to its lane after passing. Remember that on an upgrade or steep hill, a large vehicle usually loses speed. Look far ahead when driving. In case you will need to pass a large vehicle ahead of you, be prepared by knowing in advance when you are approaching an incline that may cause the other vehicle to slow down. Also, as your own vehicle begins a downgrade, remember that the speed of the other vehicle is likely to increase significantly as it also travels downhill. This would require your vehicle to take more time to pass.
Never pass close behind a large vehicle that is backing up. Often a truck driver has no choice but to temporarily block a road to back into a loading area. Be patient!
It is far better to wait until the large vehicle has completed its backing maneuver than to try to pass. If you try to pass in this situation, it is likely that you will enter one of the vehicle's blind spots, thus making you invisible to the driver and increasing the chance of a traffic crash.
Do not underestimate the size and speed of an approaching tractor-trailer or other large vehicle. Its larger size will often make it appear to be traveling at a slower speed than it really is. Also, from a distance it may not appear to be as large as it really is. Even so, the other vehicle will often reach you sooner than you expect! When driving on an undivided highway, it is often better to move as far to the right as possible, as soon as possible, to make sure your vehicle will not be sideswiped by an approaching tractor-trailer or other large vehicle.
Always leave space when you stop behind a truck or bus at a traffic light or stop sign, especially when facing uphill. The truck or bus could stall or roll backward slightly when starting. If you leave enough room between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead, you may be able to pull out from behind and go around it.
Horseback riders are subject to, and protected by, the rules of the road. They also must ride single file near the right curb or road edge, or on a usable right shoulder, lane or path.
The law requires you to exercise due care when approaching a horse being ridden or led along a road. You must drive at a reasonable speed, and at a reasonable distance away from the horse. It is illegal to sound your horn when approaching or passing a horse.
Before going on to Chapter 12, make sure you can answer these questions: