Chapter 11: Sharing the Road

chapter 11


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:

  • Obey traffic and pedestrian signals and traffic officers.

  • Use sidewalks when available, or walk facing traffic, as far to the left as possible.

  • Never stand in the road to hitchhike or conduct business with passing motorists.



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 in-line skaters must:

  • Ride in a bicycle lane, if a usable one is available. Where there is none, the bicyclist must ride near the right curb or edge of the road, or on a usable right shoulder of the road, to avoid undue interference with other traffic. The rule of staying to the right does not apply when a bicyclist or in-line skater is preparing for a left turn or must move left to avoid hazards.

  • Come to a full stop before entering a roadway from a driveway, alley or over a curb.

  • Never travel with more than two abreast in a single lane.

  • Never ride on a sidewalk if local laws prohibit it.

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.

Bicyclists also must:

  • Signal turns, lane changes and stops using the hand signals shown. A bicyclist may signal a right turn by extending the right arm straight out to the right, instead of using the standard signal for car drivers. Never carry an infant under a year old as a passenger. It is against the law. Child passengers one through four years old must ride in securely attached bicycle safety seats.

hand signals - bike

  • Never carry a passenger unless the bicycle has a passenger seat.

  • Keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times, and not carry anything which interferes with proper control of the bicycle.

  • Any bicycle crash that results in death or serious injury must be reported to DMV within 10 days of the incident. Bicycle accident report forms (MV104C) are available at any motor vehicle office.

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:

  • The motorcyclist may quickly change speed or lane position to avoid loose gravel, debris, seams or grooves in the pavement, sewer or access covers, or small animals.

  • When approaching a railroad crossing, a motorcyclist may slow down and rise off the seat to cushion the rough crossing and change direction to cross the tracks at a right angle.

  • On bridges with metal grates (often marked STEEL DECK BRIDGE), the motorcyclist may move to the center of the lane to compensate for the uneven surface. Stay well behind a motorcyclist in this situation.



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.



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 4MANY CLASS 4ANY CLASS 4
Registration requiredYES (A Plate)YES (B Plate)YES (C Plate)
Headlight to be on when operatingYESYESYES
Helmet & eye protection required when operating 5YESYESRecommended
Where operation is permittedAny Traffic Lane
Only 1 & Shoulder
Right Hand Lane 
Only 1 & Shoulder
Right Hand Lane
Mandatory insurance requiredYESYESRecommended 2
Safety responsibility 3 appliesYESYESYES
Annual inspection requiredYESRecommendedRecommended
Title requiredNONONO

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:

  • The bigger their blind spots,

  • The longer it takes them to stop,

  • The more room they need to maneuver,

  • The longer it takes an auto to pass them.

Blind Spots

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."

Side Blind Spots

No zone

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.

Rear Blind Spots

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.

Stopping Distance

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:

  • Do not cut abruptly in front of the large vehicle; if exiting, take a few extra seconds to slow down and exit behind it, and if passing, do not pull in front of the vehicle unless you can see the whole front of the vehicle in your rear view mirror.

  • Pay close attention to the large vehicle's turn signals. Because trucks make wide right turns, they need to swing to the left before turning right-make sure you know which way the vehicle is turning by observing turn signals.

  • Do not linger beside a large vehicle, because you may not be visible to the driver in the wide area the truck needs for maneuvering a turn.

stopping distance chart


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.

Backing up

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.

Approaching A Truck

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.

Stopping Behind A Truck

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.



The "slow moving vehicle" emblem, a fluorescent or reflective orange triangle, must be displayed on the rear of vehicles drawn by animals, and most farm vehicles and construction equipment. The United States Postal Service also requires these orange safety-triangles to be displayed on all rural mail delivery vehicles. Use caution when approaching a slow moving vehicle and be sure it is safe before you pass.



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:

  • How do the blind spots surrounding a large commercial vehicle differ from the blind spots surrounding a car?

  • How does the stopping distance of a large vehicle with air brakes compare with the stopping distance of a car?

  • After passing a large vehicle, what should you be sure of before returning to the lane in which the large vehicle is traveling?

  • What is the best strategy to follow when approaching a large vehicle that is backing up into a loading area?

  • When children are nearby, what should you do before backing out of a driveway?

  • How can you identify a blind pedestrian to whom you must yield the right-of-way?

  • Where must a pedestrian walk when there are no sidewalks?

  • How should you approach a bicyclist?

  • Must a bicyclist obey traffic laws and signs?

  • Where there is no bicycle lane, on what portion of the road must a bicyclist ride?

  • What extra equipment must a bicycle have when used at night?

  • May motorcyclists ride three abreast in a single lane?

  • What does a slow moving vehicle emblem look like?


End of Chapter 11: check mark Take the Quiz!

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