In Florida, it is common to see motorcyclists travel in a lane together. This is called lane sharing. However, when a motorcyclist travels on the line between lanes, that’s called lane splitting, which is illegal in Florida.
Without restrictions and driver awareness, motorcycle riding can become very dangerous. Most motorcycle accidents are caused by two key factors: poor judgment and lack of visibility of motorcyclists. Lane-splitting at high speeds makes both of these factors harder to assess properly for motorists.
Moreover, motorcyclists lose their lives and get injured almost every day in Florida. In 2021, there were over 8,000 motorcycle accidents in Florida with over 500 people dying in a crash. The numbers don’t lie – motorcycle accidents happen too frequently and often result from risky driving behaviors, such as lane-splitting. In this article, we’ll discuss what lane splitting is and what laws in Florida affect motorcycle riders.
What Exactly Is Lane Splitting?
Simply put, lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between traffic lanes rather than in the lane. They do this to get around other cars, most often during heavy traffic congestion or to get to the front of an intersection.
However ,most states have laws that prohibit lane-splitting. In fact, California is the only state that explicitly allows lane-splitting. Other states allow a modified version of lane splitting, which is known as lane-filtering. Lane filtering is just lane-splitting at a lower speed.
Why Is Lane Splitting So Dangerous?
Lane splitting is dangerous for a few reasons. First of all, it puts motorcyclists in drivers’ blind spots. When motorcycles weave in and out of drivers’ blind spots, they become very inconspicuous. This can be an especially hazardous scenario during rush hour traffic when there is a lot of stop and go.
Furthermore, during heavy traffic hours, cars are more likely to make sudden lane changes and fail to see a motorcyclist that is moving quickly or in their blind spot. The results can be disastrous and usually do more harm to the motorcyclists than the passenger vehicle occupants.
Unfortunately many people drive with distractions and are not on the lookout for motorcyclists.
Lane-Splitting Is Against the Law in Florida
Some may argue that motorcyclists have more freedom on the road due to their ability to lane split. However, lane splitting is illegal in Florida. This is different from lane sharing, where motorcyclists ride inside the lines, side by side.
Lane Sharing is Permitted In Florida
Motorcyclists who ride inside the lines next to each other are lane sharing, rather than splitting. They sometimes stagger their formation, which is safer than riding adjacently. However, only two motorcycles can share a lane at a time. More than two motorcycles in one lane is not only illegal, but also dangerous. Since an average lane is only about 10- 12 feet wide, only two motorcycles can ride in a lane safely and comfortably. The bottom line is that Florida motorcycle riders are entitled to their own lane of traffic.
Florida Laws That Regulate Motorcycle Lane Usage
Florida Statute 316.209(3)(4) governs how motorcyclists can use lanes. Under this statute, motorcycle riders cannot legally ride between traffic lanes. Furthermore, no more than two motorcyclists can ride in one lane at the same time.
The exception to this rule is for law enforcement officers. Police officers and firefighters may lane split while on the job without being subject to the same consequences as all other motorists. The penalty for line-splitting can include fines and citations for moving violations.
Additional Laws on Florida Motorcycle Riding
Motorcyclists in Florida require a motorcycle endorsement or license (Florida Statute 322.03(4). Florida also requires motorcycle riders under the age of 21 to wear a helmet and those over 21 to carry a minimum coverage insurance policy.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Other States?
Currently, California is the only state where lane splitting is legal. While they allow lane splitting as a tool to reduce traffic congestion, they do have some regulations on how motorcyclists do it. For example, they don’t allow lane splitting at higher speeds (over 30mph) or near exit ramps. Some studies suggest that allowing motorcyclists to lane split reduces their chances of getting rear-ended during heavy traffic.
Other states allow modified forms of lane splitting, such as lane filtering. Utah, for example, allows lane filtering at speeds under 45 mph.
Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Tips From the Florida Department of Transportation
Florida’s Department of Transportation urges drivers and motorcyclists to take precautions to keep the roadways safe for everyone. More specifically, they encourage cars to look twice and take an extra moment to scan their surroundings. Sharing the road with thousands of other motorists requires attention, especially for motorcyclists.
Here are some safety tips for drivers sharing the road with motorcyclists:
- Always double-check before pulling out or making turns at an intersection. Check your mirrors frequently to ensure no one is in your blind spot.
- Give the same respect to motorcyclists as you do to other drivers.
- Use the five-second rule. That means you should try to keep at least five seconds of distance between yourself and a motorcycle in front of you.
- Be aware of a motorcycle that passes you so you have an idea of their relative location to you while.
- If you pass a motorcycle, give them a full lane.
- Limit distractions while driving.
- yield the right of way to motorcycles.
- Remain alert. All drivers have a duty of care to stay vigilant while driving and prevent harm to other motorists.
- Don’t drive while you are tired or intoxicated. That’s considered negligence and you could be held legally accountable for causing an accident.
- Always scan your surroundings while driving.
Motorcyclists Also Have a Responsibility to Ride Safely Too
All motorists have a responsibility to practice safe driving behaviors, including motorcyclists. That means motorcycle riders should follow traffic laws, including lane regulations. Motorcycles carry inherent risks since the rider has limited protective barrier in the event of a crash. So in some sense, they have a higher duty to ride responsibly. Driving any motor vehicle requires some degree of risk management as well as skill and concentration.
Contact a Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
The unfortunate reality is that motorcyclists have a higher likelihood of getting injured. If you sustained injuries in a Florida motorcycle accident, you need a strong team on your side. Don’t just wing it with any lawyer, find a reputable one who has experience helping motorcycle accident victims and a proven track record.
With a skilled Florida motorcycle accident attorney, you can seek fair and full compensation for all of your losses. That may include pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. We will negotiate arduously to get you what you deserve. After a motorcycle accident, you need to focus on healing from your injuries and resting, not battling with insurance companies. We’ll handle that for you.
Your initial consultation is free, so contact us today.