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Nicoletti Walker Law Group July 10, 2014

Three people were taken to the hospital after two cars collided along Highway 77 in Southport, Florida. Several law enforcement agencies responded to this car crash, including the Florida Highway Patrol, Bay County Sheriff’s Office, and Bay County Fire Rescue. According to a trooper who was at the scene of the accident, the two cars collided when one of them attempted to change lanes. The collision sent one of the cars into a power pole. The drivers of both of the cars and one of the passengers were taken to the hospital to receive treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

Legally Changing Lanes in Florida

Under Florida law, there are some limitations placed on when and how you can change lanes, which could affect the outcome of a lawsuit if you sustain injuries as a result of a driver who you suspect changed lanes negligently. The Florida statute states: “No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless… such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction….In every event the overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle.”

The statute continues to say: “No vehicle shall be driven from a direct course in any lane on any highway until the driver has determined that the vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which the driver desires to move and that the move can be completely made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the same direction.”

In order to pass then, a driver ultimately must be able to clearly see that there is no oncoming traffic for a safe distance forward, and must give any approaching vehicles a buffer of 200 feet. Additionally, the driver can’t attempt to change lanes unless they first determine that doing so wouldn’t harm a vehicle in any direction.

Of course, each party involved in an accident in these circumstances may see it differently, which is why it is imperative to seek the services of an attorney if you have been injured in a crash.

Tips and Techniques for Changing Lanes Safely

There are some precautions you can take while driving to make sure you are exercising due care while you change lanes. First, you should scan the road ahead and plan in advance. Watch out for things such as pedestrians about to step onto the road, other vehicles reducing speed, and drivers about to merge across your lane. Also keep an eye on brake lights of vehicles that are in front of you. You should monitor your rear view mirror, as it gives you a much wider view than what is provided by your side mirrors. Finally, always check your blind spot before switching lanes, and make sure to signal to communicate to other drivers what you are about to do.

If you have been in a car accident and have suffered injuries to yourself or to your property, contact the experienced Clearwater personal injury attorneys at Mike Walker Law. We are prepared to advocate on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve.