Motorcyclists must abide by the rules of the road even with their different vehicle types. However, some exceptions to the standard laws do exist for motorcycles. For example, is lane splitting legal in Florida? This is a question many motorists ask when hitting the open road.
At Eltringham Law Group, our motorcycle accident attorneys serve people like you all across Ft. Lauderdale. We can help you understand your rights and the laws of the state so you can feel more confident when you drive. This can also help you in the event that you crash with a lane-splitting motorcyclist and find yourself in a difficult situation.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Is lane splitting legal in Florida? To answer this, you will need to understand what lane splitting is in the first place.
Lane splitting refers to the practice in which motorcyclists will travel between clearly marked lanes, usually riding over the dividing white or yellow lines, and travel between other vehicles.
This essentially forcibly creates a third unofficial lane between two official lanes.
Many motorcyclists will lane split during traffic jams and backups in particular, as it gives them a way to weave and move through traffic unencumbered by the cars around them.
Is Lane Splitting Safe?
Motorcycle lane splitting is often a dangerous act. Motorcyclists already have a very low rate of visibility among drivers of covered vehicles. Driving between lanes in such a manner greatly increases your chance of getting struck by a car as they switch lanes.
Additionally, with the size of today’s vehicles continuing to grow, the space between lanes greatly lessens. It is entirely possible for a lane splitting motorcycle to run into a passage too narrow for them to get through, and they may not have the space or room to brake before hitting another vehicle.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Florida?
Florida Statutes §316.209 states that lane splitting is illegal in Florida. Moving between rows of vehicles, passing between adjacent lines, and operating a motorcycle in between lanes of traffic all count as illegal activity under this statute because of the aforementioned dangers. This means that a motorcyclist operating under such conditions could be at fault for any potential crashes that they then end up involved in.
What About Lane Sharing in Florida?
You may be wondering, if lane splitting is illegal, can motorcycles share lanes in Florida? The short answer is yes: lane sharing is legal in the state.
Lane sharing involves two motorcyclists riding side by side in one lane. This lane is properly denoted by yellow or white road markings. Since motorcycles are significantly smaller than other vehicles on the road, two motorcyclists can ride like this without going over the lines.
Fortunately, this poses a much smaller risk to other drivers on the road, so there is less to worry about.
What Are the Penalties for Lane Splitting in Florida?
Is lane splitting legal in Florida? No. Under Florida law, lane splitting is a noncriminal traffic infraction. This means a motorcyclist typically will not face jail time for lane splitting.
However, if a motorcyclist ends up hitting you or otherwise getting involved in a crash with you while lane splitting, this could shift the blame and financial responsibility to the motorcyclist.
The insurance companies and their attorneys can use lane splitting to prove negligence or fault on the part of the motorcyclist. On top of that, motorcyclists could face a monetary fine as well.
The average cost of a lane splitting fine is around $100, but it can rise as high as $500 in some locations.
If the motorcyclist holds even a percentage of fault or blame, they may also have to cover damages and medical expenses.
Why Is Lane Splitting Legal in Another State But Not Florida?
Now that we’ve covered the illegality of lane splitting in Florida, your next question may be: Is it legal anywhere else? Yes, it is. However, California is the only state that currently allows motorcycle lane splitting.
The reason California law permits it is a result of the enormous amounts of traffic congestion in many of their major cities, especially Los Angeles. Allowing for lane splitting potentially reduces the risk of motorcyclists getting rear-ended when waiting in stopped traffic. Additionally, it can possibly reduce the overall levels of traffic congestion by keeping motorcyclists moving through at a faster rate.
Other states do not face the same challenges as California, however, and lane splitting is not likely to become legal in Florida at any point in the future. The known risks currently outweigh the potential benefits. However, it is always important to pay attention to traffic laws as they change over time. Knowing the current laws will help you stay safer when sharing the road with motorcyclists.
Do You Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer? Contact Eltringham Law Group
At Eltringham Law Group, our personal injury attorneys are here to help you out in the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident. Getting involved in a crash while lane splitting on a motorcycle can have enormous impacts on your life. You could face alterations to every aspect of how you live, including your physical and mental health. As an injured motorcyclist, you may even fear that you could end up held liable for the accident.
In spite of the traffic violation, you could still receive compensation if you share fault with a driver who caused or contributed to the crash. In other words, just because you were lane splitting doesn’t free the other involved driver(s) from having to compensate you if they also did something wrong that caused or contributed to the accident.
Hiring an attorney to investigate the events leading up to a lane-splitting motorcycle accident is perhaps your best chance at making your fullest recovery.
To take a look at the options available to you after a crash due to a motorcycle lane splitting, reach out to us for a consultation. Our attorneys will walk with you every step of the way as you decide how to move forward.