What is Lane Splitting?
July 28, 2022 | Sagi Shaked
Florida’s glorious weather means that motorcycles are on the roads year-round. Whether it is a fair perception or not, motorcycle riders often have a bad reputation amongst their fellow travelers. This sentiment isn’t helped by the practice of lane splitting, where motorcycle riders weave in and out of vehicles in the normal flow of traffic.
Lane splitting is illegal in Florida, which can impact a motorcyclist’s liability and compensation award in an accident. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, consider contacting a seasoned personal injury attorney for advice.
The Rules of the Road in Florida
Florida law is clear that drivers need to respect motorcycles on the road and that all motorcycles should be given the space to fully use a lane.
The law is also clear that lane splitting is not allowed, stating:
- Riders can’t pass a car in the same lane and then get in front of them
- Riders can’t go between traffic lanes or adjacent lines of vehicles (e.g., driving on the white line between lanes)
Motorcycles are faster and smaller than cars and can maneuver easily between vehicles. If they get caught lane splitting, they could be subject to a fine.
Is Lane Splitting Dangerous? It Depends on Who You Ask
Motorcycles are already at risk on Florida roads, with nearly 9,000 accidents reported in the last year. The reality is that any motorcycle accident could be very serious because riders are so physically vulnerable, even if they are wearing a helmet.
Lane splitting can arguably increase that risk. Motorcycles are already harder to see on the roads, and can be harder to spot if they are weaving in and out of vehicle drivers’ blind spots.
Lane splitting can cause:
- The lane splitting rider to hit another vehicle (e.g., it could hit a car on its side or while passing in front of it)
- Other vehicles to collide with each other (e.g., when drivers see a motorcycle between the lanes, they may stop short and cause rear-end collisions)
Conversely, many motorcycle drivers argue that they are safer when constantly moving through vehicles in traffic. If they are stopped behind larger cars and trucks, it is harder for them to see what is happening ahead, and it’s more difficult for them to be seen by other vehicles. Plus, they can be boxed in if surrounded by larger cars and trucks.
Lane Splitting Will Affect a Personal Injury Claim in Florida
All drivers on Florida roads must exercise reasonable care towards other drivers and pedestrians. This applies no matter the mode of transportation, be it bicycles, scooters, or feet.
If this duty of care is breached and results in an accident, the driver can be held financially accountable for serious damages caused by the accident. For example, they could have to pay for any property damage and medical bills caused by their behavior.
If a motorcycle rider’s lane splitting caused an accident, they might be liable in a personal injury claim. On the flip side, if a driver caused an accident by failing to give a motorcycle rider sufficient space to use a full lane, they may be liable for damages.
Keep in mind that Florida is a pure comparative fault state. This doctrine allows for damages you may receive to be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if the accident was 20 percent your fault because you were lane splitting, your damages could be reduced by 20 percent.
Consult a Florida Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
If you have been in an accident involving a motorcycle, the wisest first step is to consult an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. As they regularly handle these types of claims, they will have insight into the best way to proceed. And if you were lane splitting at the time of the accident, they’ll explain your legal options and help you fight to recover a fair amount.