When changing the law doesn’t actually change the law.

Some people are confused over SB 80.

This is my attempt to clear things up and encourage you to call the legislative message line: 1-800-372-7181 and tell them to vote yes on SB 80.

KRS 189.300 requires “all” vehicles to operate on the right “whenever possible”. It isn’t always possible to operate on the right due to the ever changing nature of highways. This is acknowledged in the statute by the words “whenever possible”. Which simply means it isn’t a requirement when changes exist to the highway which prevents operation on the right. Or simply stated, you are allowed to pass another vehicle.

But!

You have to make sure that the left side of the highway is clear of all other traffic before passing.

Let’s think about that for a minute.

If this is a two way highway we are on how much of the highway is on the left?

It could be safely assumed that half the highway is on the right and the other half is on the left.

But!

We don’t have to assume. When we read KRS 189.310 we see that indeed on a two lane road. Half the highway is yours and the other half belongs to oncoming traffic.

Vehicles proceeding from opposite directions shall pass each other from the right, each giving to the other one-half (1/2) of the highway as nearly as possible.

Q: As nearly as possible? What does that mean?

A: Not all vehicles are created equal. Some have big butts. Just kidding. Some vehicles are larger than others and when a really large vehicle is going down a two lane road they need to…Wait for it!

Operate as close as practicable to the right hand boundary of the highway!

Q: The statute says slow moving vehicles! So really fast vehicles don’t have to follow that rule?

A: Wrong!

You have to give nearly half the highway to oncoming traffic and if you are moving quickly and are large then you too have to get over as close as practicable.

Odds are very likely though that you won’t be moving that fast if you’re operating a large vehicle. The more junk you have in your trunk the slower you tend to be.

Q: So are big trucks and farm equipment required to operate on the shoulder? I mean what is this whole boundary thing? You sound like my ex.

A: We have two places to look to. One is KRS 189.340

(3) The operator of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movements in safety. Such movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway unless passing vehicle comes to a complete stop and such movement may be made safely.

The other place we need to look at is the definitions for the chapter. KRS 189.010

(10) “Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel,exclusive of the berm or shoulder. If a highway includes two (2) or more separate roadways, the term “roadway” as used herein shall refer to any roadway separately but not to all such roadways collectively.

So a really large and slow moving vehicle is not supposed to travel off the roadway.

Q: But it says “roadway” and not “highway”. Doesn’t the word highway include the shoulder?

A: I feel like I’m talking to the Jessamine County attorney and his ever faithful sidekick Eric Wright. To answer your question we once again turn towards the definitions.

(3) “Highway” means any public road, street, avenue, alley or boulevard, bridge, viaduct, or trestle and the approaches to them and includes private residential roads and parking lots covered by an agreement under KRS 61.362, off-street parking facilities offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, except for-hire parking facilities listed in KRS 189.700.

The definition of a highway is A main road or thoroughfare, such as a street, boulevard, or parkway, available to the public for use for travel or transportation. And as we already learned it is exclusive of the berm or shoulder.

The traveled portion of the road is also referred to as a lane of traffic and KRS 189.300 clearly states

The overtaking vehicle shall return to the proper traffic lane as soon as practicable and, if the passing vehicle enters the oncoming traffic lane, before coming within two hundred (200) feet of any approaching vehicle.

Roadway and traffic lane are synonymous.

The final piece of the puzzle is the phrase

allowing more swiftly moving vehicles reasonably free passage to the left.

Q: What is considered reasonably free passage to the left?

A: The left side of the highway.

Q: But what if it is a multi lane road?

A: Then it would be the left lane.

Q: Why can’t we all share a lane?

A: Because sharing a lane is expressly illegal! Both KRS 189.310 and KRS 189.340 make it very clear that on a two lane road half the highway is yours and on a multi lane road

KRS 189.340 (6)(a)
A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as may be practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety;

Omigosh! That was so hard to understand.

Correction: That was/is so hard for Eric Wright and the rest of the Jessamine County Attorney’s office to understand.

The updated proposed legislation specifically names bicycles and clarifies already existing language.

They have taken the existing statutes and made the language so simple that even the Jessamine County Attorney can understand it.

(3) The operator of a bicycle shall travel as closely as practicable to the right hand side of the traveled portion of a highway unless there is appropriate signage or markings to indicate otherwise. The operator of the bicycle shall not be expected or required to:
(a) Travel on the shoulder of the highway;
(b) Operate over or through hazards at the edge of a highway, including but not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards; or
(c) Operate without a reasonable safety margin on the right-hand side of the highway.

Remember that the original statute stated “Whenever Possible” but didn’t actually specify what hazards can be expected other than to mention other vehicles. So this clarification is essential for the deeply prejudiced.

All efforts have been made to dispel any myths about where bicycles “should” be.

 

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Q: Does this mean I have to make a left turn from the right side of the road?

A: (Face Palm) No! Nothing has changed about how you operate on the road. You are operating a vehicle per KRS 189.010.

See KRS 189.330 for rules on turning and intersections.

(6) The operator of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:
(a) 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;
(b) Left turns – the operator of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand 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 and so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme right-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as such vehicle on the roadway being entered.

Now please stop being silly and follow the Rules of the Road! 

 

Stay tuned for SB 80 Part 2.

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