Proposed Changes to UVC Chapters 1 and 11

[B' Spokes: These changes are cool! So ATTENTION MARYLAND BICYCLE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE]


If you would like to make comments to the proposed changes to the Bicycle Technical Committee see the main page.

To highlight a few of proposed changes (my best attempt at preserving formatting):

ARTICLE III-DRIVING ON RIGHT SIDE OF ROADWAY; OVERTAKING AND PASSING-USE OF ROADWAY (Sections especially concerning bicycling)

§ 11-301 Drive on right side of roadway—exceptions

(a)         Upon all roadways of sufficient width a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway, except as follows:

1.  When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing such movement;

2.  When an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway; provided any person driving to the left of the center of the highway shall yield the right of way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the highway within such distance as to constitute an immediate hazard;

3.  Upon a roadway divided into three marked lanes for traffic under the rules applicable thereon; or

4.  Upon a roadway restricted to one-way traffic.

(b)         Upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal and lawful speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right—hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road, alley, or driveway. or far enough to the right to allow overtaking and passing by faster vehicles if such passing is safe and reasonable, except under any of the situations listed below.

1.  When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

2.  When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

3.  When the operator must necessarily drive in a lane other than the right-hand lane to continue on such operator’s intended route.

(c)  The intent of this subsection is to facilitate the overtaking of slowly moving vehicles by faster vehicles, and shall not require the drivers of such slowly moving vehicles to risk their own safety in order to facilitate overtaking. If there is a marked bicycle lane at the right side of the road, operators of bicycles shall not be required to use such lane.

(d)  Upon any roadway having four or more lanes for moving traffic and providing for two-way movement of traffic, no vehicle shall be driven to the left of the center line of the roadway, except when authorized by official traffic-control devices designating certain lanes to the left side of the center of the roadway for use by traffic not otherwise permitted to use such lanes, or except as permitted under subsection (a) 2. This subsection shall not be construed as prohibiting the crossing of the center line in making a left turn into or from an alley, private road or driveway.

Specific justifications for § 11-301 changes:

This section is being expanded to include all slow-moving vehicles. The changes enhance safety and clarity. An operator of a bicycle, moped or motorcycle can facilitate overtaking in a wide lane while still maintaining a position in the lane which maintains visibility and avoids potential hazards. Section (b) 3 applies to situations where the right-hand lane is obstructed or unsafe, or is a right-turn lane, or is to the right of a right-turn lane.


§ 11-303 Overtaking a vehicle on the left

The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions and special rules hereinafter stated:

(a)  The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a safe distance to the left of the vehicle being overtaken and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

(b)  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 and not increase the speed of the vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle. If the roadway is of sufficient width to permit safe passing, the overtaken driver shall not unnecessarily obstruct the overtaking vehicle.

Specific justifications for § 11-303 changes:

The current language in part (b) requiring an audible signal is an antiquated leftover from the days of Model T Fords and dirt roads. Then, people drove towards the center of such roads to avoid ruts at the edge. A faster driver would signal with the horn to alert the leading driver to move over. On modern roads, people normally drive near the right; therefore this instruction has little meaning. Occupying a lane is not unnecessarily obstructive if another lane is available for travel. Use of horns must be reserved for emergency situations, not to intimidate or startle slower drivers, and avoiding noise pollution.


§ 11-307-No-passing zones

(a)         The (State highway commission) and local authorities are authorized to determine those portions of any highway under their respective jurisdictions where overtaking and passing or driving on the left side of the roadway would be especially hazardous and may by appropriate signs or markings on the roadway indicate the beginning and end of such zones.

(b)         When such signs or markings are in place and clearly visible to an ordinarily observant person every driver of a vehicle shall obey the directions thereof.

(c)         Where signs or markings are in place to define a no-passing zone as set forth in paragraph (a) no driver shall at any time drive on the left side of the roadway within such no-passing zone or on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark such no-passing zone.

(d)         This section does not apply under the conditions described in 11-301(a)2, nor to the driver of a vehicle turning left into or from an alley, private road or driveway.

(e)         Division (c) of this section does not apply when all of the following apply:

1.  The slower vehicle is proceeding at less than half the speed of the speed limit applicable to that location.

2.  The faster vehicle is capable of overtaking and passing the slower vehicle without exceeding the speed limit.

3.  There is sufficient clear sight distance to the left of the center or center line of the roadway to meet the overtaking and passing provisions of sections 11-305 and 11-306, considering the speed of the slower vehicle.

Specific justifications for § 11-307 changes:

Overtaking slow vehicles does not require as much distance as overtaking vehicles traveling near the speed limit. In particular, it is often only necessary to merge partway into the oncoming lane to overtake a bicyclist, and so the distance required for overtaking is even shorter then. Such overtaking is common and has not been shown to be a problem. Ohio, Maine and New Jersey have adopted provisions to make this legal. This change is necessary for safe and legal passing distances on many roads. The wording is from Ohio statute, and is also relevant to farm equipment and animal-drawn vehicles. See http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4511.31


§ 11-601 Required position and method of turning

(a)        The driver of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:

1. Right turns - Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. Where there is a separate lane for bicycles at the right edge of the roadway, a driver making a right turn must merge into this bicycle lane before turning.

2. Left turns - The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle. Whenever practicable, the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme left lane lawfully available to traffic.

3.     Two-way left-turn lanes - Where a special lane for making left turns by drivers proceeding in opposite directions has been indicated by official traffic-control devices:

                i. A left turn shall not be made from any other lane.

              ii. A vehicle shall not be driven in the lane except when preparing for or making a left turn from or into the roadway or when preparing for or making a U turn when otherwise permitted by law.

(b)        The state highway commission and local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause official traffic-control devices to be placed and thereby require and direct that a different course from that specified in this section be traveled by turning vehicles, and when such devices are so placed no driver shall turn a vehicle other than as directed and required by such devices.

Specific justifications for § 11-601 changes:

The first sentence of §11-601(a) already implicitly requires drivers to merge into a bike lane, parking lane or other special-purpose lane before turning right. Language added to §11-601(a) will help prevent the dangerous error called the “right hook”. This is similar to California CVC § 21717.

Reorganization of the section clarifies that standard rules for left turns, as well as the option to specify special rules, apply to all vehicles. Also see section 11-1208, which describes the two-step left-turn option for bicyclists.


§ 11-505--Pedestrians to use right half of crosswalks and shared-use paths.

Whenever practicable, pedestrians shall move upon the right half of crosswalks and shared-use paths, unless indicated otherwise by traffic-control devices.

Specific justifications for § 11-505 changes:

The narrowness of most shared-use paths, and the slower travel speeds of bicycles compared with those of motor vehicles, make it more practical and reasonably safe for pedestrians to keep to the right. This is the practice in most states. Then bicyclists can at least keep moving at a slow riding pace, or by walking. If pedestrians walk on the left, head-on conflicts with bicyclists occur and the capacity of the path is greatly reduced when it is congested. This addition refers to the new definition of “shared-use path” proposed for Chapter 1 of the UVC.



Please see Proposed Changes to UVC Chapters 1 and 11 for all the proposed changes.

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