Passing laws: Utah requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance, not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Utah that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Vulnerable User Laws – to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. For example, a motor vehicle would have to yield to a bicycle and a bicycle would have to yield to a pedestrian. Utah classifies a bicycle and electrically assisted bicycle as a “Vulnerable User”.
Utah law requires that:
Utah protects vulnerable users of a highway by making it a Class C misdemeanor if a driver of a motor vehicle knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly:
- Operates a motor vehicle within 3 feet of a vulnerable user;
- Distracts or attempts to distract a vulnerable user for the purpose of causing violence or injury to said user; or
- Forces or attempts to force a vulnerable user off the roadway for a purpose unrelated to traffic safety.
If bodily injury occurs as a result of any of the above actions, then the driver may be charged with a class B misdemeanor.
Distracted Driving Laws: The following laws in Utah have been passed that are aimed at distracted driving:
A person operating a motor vehicle is guilty of careless driving if the person:
1. Commits a moving traffic violation, that is not a speed limit violation, while being distracted by an activity in the vehicle that is not related to the operating the motor vehicle, including:
a. using a wireless telephone or other electronic device, unless said device is in a hands-free talking and listening mode, while operating the motor vehicle;
b. searching for an item in the vehicle; or
c. attending to personal hygiene or grooming.
2. A person may not use a handheld wireless communication device while operating a moving motor to:
a. text message;
b. manually compose an e-mail;
c. manually enter data into a wireless communication device;
d. send data, read text, or view images on a handheld wireless communication device; or
e. manipulate an application from a handheld wireless communication device.
A person commits criminal homicide, a third degree felony, if the person operates a moving motor vehicle in a negligent manner:
a. while using a handheld wireless communication device as described above; and
b. causing the death of another person.
Where to Ride – Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking Utah law requires the bicyclist to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow; and
- When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
Sidewalk Riding: The general rule in Utah is that you are permitted to ride on sidewalks. However, there are certain rules and exceptions that must be followed. So you may ride on a sidewalk subject to the following:
- You must yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian;
- You are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk or crosswalk where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices;
- You are not allowed to travel at a speed that is faster than that which is safe and prudent under the circumstances;
- You have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same; and
- If there is a usable path for a bicycle there may be a sign that requires a bicycle to use such path.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In Utah, bicycles are defined as vehicles. Utah’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore does apply to bicyclists. However, Utah law does specify that a cyclist found guilty of riding a bicycle under the influence is not subject to the penalties related to a motor vehicle operator being found guilty of driving under the influence.
Stop Sign Laws: In Utah bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and Utah does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Door Laws: Utah requires that no person open the door of any vehicle in the path of any approaching vehicle or bicycle.
Important Resources and Links