Share the Road

Accidents on rural roads

One of the most common accident scenarios involves motorists colliding with slow moving vehicles or bicyclists while overtaking them. Many motorists perceive that lane lines are absolute and believe that they cannot cross into the left lane when passing a slow moving vehicle. Often times, motorists attempt to squeeze between farm equipment or a a bicyclist and the center line. However, if a motorist slows down and plans ahead to cross the center line, there is usually sufficient room to pass.

Many times, bicyclists will ride in the center of rural roads in order to encourage motorist to cross the center line to pass! Unfortunately, motorists don't understand this and frequently collide with cyclists during the execution of the passing maneuver.

On the other hand, farm equipment just doesn't always fit into a single lane and will often "Hang over" into oncoming traffic. This is especially true when traveling over bridges and around mailboxes. Most farm equipment operators will pull over when conditions allow so that traffic can pass.

Sound your horn!

By law In Ohio, a passing motorist must signal before passing a slower vehicle and the motorist is negligent if he fails to do so. Typically, this means sound a horn during daytime or flash the high beams during nighttime. However, Ohio courts have also held that a horn blown in an untimely fashion which might scare a cyclist and causes the cyclist to move unexpectedly or lose control is also negligence.

All are Vehicles under the law

ORC Section 4511.01(A) - Defines "vehicles" to include "bicycles." This definition means that virtually every traffic law, including speeding, drunk driving, traffic control device rules, reckless operation, passing rules and the like, apply to motorists and cyclists alike. Cyclists are required to ride in the proper lane, are not permitted to ride "against traffic" and, generally, must act like any other vehicle on the roadway.

ORC Section 4511.55 - Requires cyclists to ride "as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable." This means "as far to the right as is reasonably safe to ride given the road conditions, traffic, and all other factors." Many cyclists feel that that this permits at least half the lane and is not binding to within inches of the white line. This same section also permits cyclists to ride "two abreast" on the roadway except in bike lanes and on bike paths. There is a bit of a conflict with being permitted to ride two abreast and being required to "ride as far to the right as practicable." Therefore, many cyclists argued that since the law permits two abreast riding that they are entitled to use the entire lane when doing so -- one half lane for each rider.

Slow Moving Vehicles

Any vehicle which routinely moves at a speed of twenty-five (25) miles per hour or less, by law displays a triangular slow-moving vehicle emblem (SMV) (bicycles, mopeds and disabled vehicles being towed do not have to display the sign). The emblem is typically mounted on the rear of the vehicle and is visible from a distance of five hundred (500) feet. The Ohio Director of Highway Safety has adopted standards and specifications for the design and position of mounting the SMV emblem and, so far as possible, these standards conform with those approved by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.

Slow-moving vehicles also have a red flashing light that is visible from a distance of one thousand (1,000) feet to the rear. Sometimes, a double-faced light is used, and it shows an amber light to the front and red light to the rear.

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