What do you do when there is a bicycle in front of you?
How about when a huge truck is about to turn?
Or what about a school bus?
Or when you see a pedestrian want to cross…
As a driver, it is important to know how to share the road with others.
And this is what you’re going to learn here.
We’re going to go over some Utah rules of the road on how to share it.
We’ll look at how to share the road with:
- Large vehicles
- Emergency vehicles
- Slow-moving vehicles
- School buses
So are you ready?
Let’s get to it!
How to Share the Road with Pedestrians
Before we get to the vehicles on the road — let’s talk about people.
After all, pedestrians have their share of the road too.
The rule of thumb is this — yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing the street, even if they aren’t on a crosswalk.
Be extra careful of mid-block crosswalks.
These may not have the usual road markings and warning signs as intersection crosswalks, so it’s easier to miss pedestrians crossing.
Remember, visually impaired pedestrians are a priority.
If you spot a person carrying a white cane or with a service dog, come to a complete stop and allow them to cross safely.
It’s best to be more mindful of pedestrians near residential blocks or playgrounds.
In these areas, pedestrians are more likely to suddenly step on the road (whether or not they intend to cross) and get into an accident.
Lastly, if you’re in a school zone and you see a different speed limit posted, follow it. The same goes when there’s a traffic patrol present.
How to Share the Road with Bicycles
Despite their size (and the lack of an engine), bicycles are considered vehicles in Utah.
That means they’re subject to the same laws as sedans and SUVs and have the same rights as other drivers.
Now, it’s easier sharing the road with an experienced cyclist — they typically hold a steady line and move predictably.
However, inexperienced ones tend to swerve suddenly, ride without a light, or miss traffic signs and signals.
Regardless of the cyclist, here are some guidelines to keep them (and you) safe:
- Yield to bicycles at intersections and when a bicycle lane crosses the road.
- You cannot use a bicycle lane unless entering or exiting a driveway or alley. The same goes for parking and stopping.
- Bicycles don’t stop as fast as motor vehicles, so if you suddenly stop in front of one, it may crash into you.
- Watch out for bicycles traveling in the opposite direction instead of following the traffic flow.
- Don’t drive side by side with a bicycle in the same lane. They have the right to occupy one whole lane. Also, if they do swerve, they may hit you.
- When passing a bicycle, make sure you make your intentions known to them.
- Watch out for cyclist hand signals. Unlike cars or trucks, bicycles don’t have turn signals. Check below what each hand signal means.
How to Share the Road with Motorcycles
Motorcycles are a lot faster than bicycles…
But they’re still very vulnerable on the road, especially to crashes, bumps and potholes, and the like.
Here are the Utah rules of the road when it comes to motorcycles:
- You must allow them an entire lane’s width. Just like bicycles, you need to give them space to maneuver around potholes and other hazards.
- Use your mirrors — they will allow you to see if there’s a motorcycle nearby.
- Watch out for your blind spots. Motorbikes are more challenging to spot because they’re significantly smaller than other vehicles.
- Look at both sides before turning left. You’ll never know when a motorcycle is approaching from behind.
- Although you shouldn’t ignore the turning lights on a motorcycle, you shouldn’t take it at face value. Most motorcycles don’t have self-canceling signals, and it’s possible the driver isn’t turning at all.
- Keep at least four seconds’ worth of distance between you and a motorcycle in front — more if the road is wet. Potholes, gravel, or wet spots may cause riders to lose their balance, and they may swerve or change lanes to avoid them.
How to Share the Road with Large Vehicles
From smaller vehicles, let’s go to the bigger ones, such as trucks and buses.
There’s no missing them because of their size.
But you must adjust your driving behavior to ensure your safety.
For example, don’t stay long in a large vehicle’s blindspots, called its No-Zone. These are areas surrounding it where the driver doesn’t see you.
Large vehicles have three blindspots. These are:
- Side No-Zone: A truck’s largest blindspot is on its right side — it starts from behind the cab until its entire length. If you can’t see the driver from the truck’s side mirror, he can’t see you either. Don’t stay in a side no-zone for long — if the vehicle needs to turn or change lanes, it might crash into you.
- Front No-Zone: When you pass a truck, wait until you see the entire cab in your rearview mirror before reentering the lane — and don’t slow down immediately. Trucks need a longer stopping distance because of their size and weight — they can’t stop as fast as you and might end up rear-ending you.
- Rear No-Zone: Allow enough space between you and a large vehicle. Truck drivers typically can’t see anything directly behind them up to 200 feet. Trucks may roll backward when stopping at an incline, so it might hit you if you’re too close behind it.
Besides avoiding the No-Zones, here are other safety tips to remember:
- When you see a truck activate its turn signal, give it enough room to maneuver. Because of its size, it typically needs a lot of turning space — maybe even 2 lanes.
- Move as far as you can to the right if a truck is approaching in the opposite direction. It helps you avoid wind blasts.
- Don’t turn in front of an approaching truck if you can’t accurately gauge its speed.
- Don’t cut in front of a truck in traffic, nor try to beat it to enter a single-lane construction zone.
How to Share the Road with Emergency Vehicles
When you encounter emergency vehicles with flashing lights and blaring sirens, you know they’re heading somewhere they’re urgently needed.
Whether it’s an ambulance, a police car, or a fire engine, you must yield the right of way.
That means staying on the right side of the road and pulling over.
Once the emergency vehicle passes you, you can rejoin traffic and continue moving.
Here are some other Utah road rules:
- You can only follow a fire vehicle responding to an alarm up to 500 feet if you’re on official business.
- You cannot park or drive within the same block as a stopped firetruck.
What about the Utah rules of the road for other stopped emergency vehicles?
In this situation, you must obey Utah’s Move Over Law.
This regulation requires you to do the following:
- Slow down and allow as much space as possible for the emergency vehicle.
- Switch to a lane further away from it if possible.
Drivers who violate the Move Over Law must complete a 4-hour defensive driving course within 90 days of their conviction. Otherwise, you face a 90-day license suspension.
How to Share the Road with Slow-Moving Vehicles
Vehicles zipping around aren’t the only ones to be careful of when you’re driving.
Sharing the road with slow-moving ones poses its own challenges.
Here are some slow-moving vehicles to watch out for and how to deal with them:
- Farm Machinery: Pass them with extreme caution. Ensure that you signal early and watch for signs that they see you. Remember, these make a lot of noise, so the driver won’t hear you when you’re approaching them from behind.
- Golf Carts: Some areas in Utah allow people to travel using a golf cart (yes, even on public roads). They typically have to follow the same regulations as cyclists, and you must treat them the same way.
- Animal-Drawn Carriages or Horseback Riders: Pass them with care and not too close. Do not honk or rev your engine because it might startle the animals and cause an accident.
How to Share the Road with School Buses
In most cases, you must stop when a school bus stops. No matter if you’re traveling in the same or opposite direction as it.
And this is a law.
So when you see a school bus flashing red lights and showing a stop sign, you must stop.
You can only continue again when the school bus starts moving or if the bus driver signals you to pass.
Now, those traveling in the opposite direction don’t have to stop for a school bus IF (and only if):
- You’re on a four-way roadway with a median or a physical barrier.
- You’re on a highway with five or more lanes and have a shared center turn lane.
Whether or not you stop for a school bus, watch out for children crossing the road afterward. It’s best to adjust your speed until the road is clear.
The Wrap Up
And those were the Utah rules of the road.
Sharing the road in Utah with all types of vehicles (and people!) is inevitable.
But now you know what to do.
Remember, you can’t force other drivers to change their driving behavior — but you can adjust yours to ensure your safety.