Drivers on Wisconsin highways can be misinformed about the "rules of the road" themselves or see others with driving habits which they believe are faulty.

These bad habits are so troubling to some area motorists they've sought clarification about certain driving practices. Because many have held their drivers licenses for a long time, they haven't necessarily been tested on their driving skills and knowledge lately. A refresher is in order, if for no other reason than laws change.

Information from the state's Department of Transportation (DOT) is good for answering friendly disputes or diagnosing the misadventures of "that bonehead" someone saw on the way home from work, according to the DOT web site. It can also save drivers from an embarrassing or even dangerous situation in traffic.

Following are a few of the rules which have drawn inquiries:

  • Stopping at stop signs. Wisconsin law requires vehicle operators approaching official stop signs at intersections to cause the vehicle to stop before entering the intersection and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles entering or approaching the intersection. The law specifies the operator stop the vehicle immediately before crossing a clearly marked stop line, if one exists, and before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection if no clearly marked stop line exists. If there's neither a clearly marked stop line nor a marked or unmarked crosswalk at the intersection, or if traffic can't be efficiently observed from where the stop is made, the operator is to stop the vehicle at such point where traffic can efficiently be observed on the intersecting road.
  • Passing on the right. State law allows vehicle operators to overtake and pass other vehicles on the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety and only if the operator can do so without driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the road, and then only if the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn; or on a street or highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width to enable two or more lines of vehicles lawfully to proceed at the same time, in the direction in which the passing vehicle is proceeding; or upon a one-way street or divided highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width to enable two or more lines of vehicles lawfully to proceed in the same direction at the same time.
  • Distance between vehicles. State law specifies a vehicle operator shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway. Upon a highway outside a business or residence district, the operator of any truck with a gross weight more than 10,000 pounds or of any vehicle where the gross weight is more than 10,000 pounds shall keep the vehicle at a distance of not less than 500 feet to the rear of any vehicle immediately preceding it, being driven in the same direction; and leave sufficient space so that an overtaking vehicle may enter and occupy such space without danger. This doesn't apply upon any lane especially designated for use by trucks or by truck tractor--semitrailer or tractor--trailer units, not does it apply when overtaking and passing another vehicle.

More rules of the road are available at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/motorist/rules/index.htm. As the DOT Web site indicates, it's not just a bad idea to break any of the rules, it's against the law.