What Do Motorcyclists Need to Know About Florida’s Lane Splitting Laws?
Lane splitting is a controversial topic among legislators, motorcyclists, and law enforcement. Proponents point to the apparent decrease in motorcycle accidents and injuries related to the legalization of lane splitting in California. Even the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has supported allowing lane splitting to promote rider safety.
However, public opinions are still mixed, as many people believe lane splitting can lead to more reckless riding and more crashes.
Despite anyone’s personal opinions on the subject, they are required to follow the rules of the road wherever they are riding. Failing to abide by the law can open you to legal consequences and complicate your civil case if you are involved in a harmful collision. Read on to learn what you need to know about Florida’s lane splitting laws and how they can impact you.
What is Lane Splitting?
When a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of traffic heading in the same direction, it is known as lane splitting. In locations where this action is legal, motorcycle riders may choose to utilize their vehicle’s smaller size to maneuver between cars that are moving slower. Lane filtering is similar to lane splitting but involves motorcycles weaving between lanes of stopped traffic at signalized intersections to reach a location at the front of the line of stopped vehicles.
Advocates of lane splitting and filtering claim that the maneuvers increase safety for riders as long as they exercise caution. It is true that motorcyclists are often in greater danger of injury in stop-and-go traffic because a rear-end collision from an inattentive driver can be devastating. The theory is that by engaging in lane splitting, motorcyclists remove themselves from the direct line of traffic and reduce the potential for impacts. While some studies have shown the possibility that this technique may be effective, opponents argue that it could actually cause more crashes because motorists are not expecting a vehicle in between lanes and may not be able to see an approaching motorcycle when they are changing lanes.
Does Florida Allow Lane Splitting for Motorcyclists?
While lane splitting is commonplace in other countries, California is the only US state to specifically allow all forms of lane splitting. However, Utah has recently temporarily legalized lane filtering to determine if it increases traffic safety. Florida Statutes §316.209 prohibits motorcycles from passing vehicles within the same lane. The law also states that no rider can operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or adjacent rows of cars.
Essentially, Florida law treats motorcycles and cars as equals. If a car is not allowed to operate in a particular way, neither is a motorcycle. The main exception to this rule of thumb regards two motorcycles riding side-by-side in the same lane, also known as lane sharing. Lane sharing is legal for motorcycles. However, riding more than two abreast in the same lane is illegal.
What Penalties Can Riders Face for Splitting Lanes?
Engaging in lane splitting in Florida can result in a noncriminal traffic infraction, and you could be given a ticket for a moving violation. Fines for a lane splitting ticket can range from $100 to $500, depending on the location and circumstances. On its own, a lane splitting violation will not result in jail time, but if you are found to be breaking other traffic laws, such as disobeying the speed limit or driving under the influence, you could face much more severe penalties.
What Role Can Lane Splitting Play in a Motor Vehicle Accident Case?
Motorcycle accidents can occur for a wide variety of reasons. While lane splitting may contribute to some motorcycle crashes, it is not one of the top causes for collisions. Speeding, inattentive driving, and operating a vehicle under the influence play a factor in the majority of crashes. If you’ve been injured in an accident that involved lane splitting, it is critical to understand that you may still have a right to compensation if the car’s driver engaged in negligent or reckless behavior.
However, these claims have become more complex with the introduction of new comparative fault rules in Florida in March 2023. Previously, Florida was a pure comparative fault state, and victims could seek damages from the other party in the accident as long as they were not 100% at fault for the crash. Under the new laws, victims are only eligible to file a suit for damages if they are 50% or less at fault for their own harm. Proving the other driver’s fault in a crash can be challenging, particularly if it can be shown that you were splitting lanes at the time the accident occurred.
Consulting with a proven advocate for motorcycle accident claims in Miami as soon as possible after your accident is vital. Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of the incident and advise you on your options for recovering damages for your losses, including medical expenses and lost wages.
How Can Our Lawyers Assist You?
Although lane splitting is legal in some places, it is currently against the law in Florida. Riders involved in an accident while lane splitting may face an uphill battle to recover damages, even if the car’s driver was speeding or otherwise acting negligently. With Florida’s new modified comparative fault laws, it has become easier for insurers to shift blame onto motorcyclists for these types of crashes.
Retaining the services of a skilled Florida motorcycle accident lawyer is key to protecting your right to recover compensation from the liable party. Contact the offices of Galimidi Law today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys: 305-692-0125.