If you engage in lane splitting, you violate Florida law. Specifically, if you maneuver a motorcycle back and forth between two lanes of stopped or slowed traffic, you commit lane splitting. Like all motor vehicle drivers, motorcyclists must follow all traffic laws, as well as those laws that apply only to motorcycles.
Lane splitting can catch other road users off-guard, giving them little time to take evasive maneuvers and avoid a collision. Since both vehicles may be in motion, this scenario leads to an increased risk of severe injury, particularly for the motorcyclist. Therefore, lane splitting is not legal in Florida. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident involving lane splitting, our attorneys can help you seek damages from the liable party.
Defining Lane Splitting Under Florida Law
Although it is legal only in the state of California, you likely have noticed motorcyclists riding between lanes of stopped or stalled traffic on busy highways or roads. This controversial practice allows motorcyclists to bypass stopped or slow traffic. It is also commonly known as white lining or stripe riding. Although it may be tempting to motorcyclists, the practice also is illegal.
The Statute to Know Regarding Lane Splitting
Florida Statutes § 316.209 establishes rules for motorcyclists riding on roadways with multiple traffic lanes. This statute specifically outlaws lane splitting, which it defines as operating “a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
Likewise, motorcyclists may not “overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.” In other words, you cannot ride a motorcycle in between two lanes in order to pass a vehicle in one of those lanes.
The same statute also notes that motorcyclists are entitled to use the full lane, just like any other motor vehicle. Additionally, motorcyclists can legally engage in lane sharing, or riding two abreast in a single lane of traffic.
Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?
The reason lane splitting is a controversial topic is that many motorcyclists claim it is safer than the alternative: getting trapped between two full-size vehicles in traffic with no way out. Unfortunately, other drivers are not always looking out for motorcycles, particularly on highways.
This lack of awareness means a driver may not see an approaching motorcycle or expect it to suddenly appear in their lane. Therefore, this scenario can cause a collision if:
- The vehicle shifts within the lane.
- The driver changes speed.
- The driver prepares to change lanes without signaling.
Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cites this as a topic worth further study as a means of reducing traffic congestion. However, the agency states that both motorcyclists and other drivers would need to be better informed about this driving strategy and react accordingly on the road. In the meantime, lane splitting remains illegal in most states, including Florida.
Consequences of Lane Splitting in Florida
Lane splitting is a noncriminal traffic infraction. Law enforcement officials treat lane splitting as a moving violation, which means that you can receive a ticket for lane splitting and be required to pay a fine. The amount of the fine can vary by county.
Lane splitting also can result in different types of accidents. In general, the motorcyclist who is engaging in lane splitting may collide with another motor vehicle, either by having side contact with a vehicle or by abruptly passing in front of another vehicle. The motorcyclist also may cause other motor vehicles to collide without being struck. This can happen if the presence of the motorcycle in between lanes causes other vehicles to abruptly stop and rear-end one another.
As a result, lane splitting by a motorcyclist could lead to liability in a personal injury claim. Likewise, a driver who fails to allow a motorcyclist to use the full lane and causes an accident also may face liability if the motorcyclist is injured.
Lane Splitting and Liability for Injuries
Since lane splitting is illegal in Florida, if the practice causes an accident, there can be additional repercussions. Evidence of a traffic violation can be evidence of negligence, which is the legal basis for many car accident claims. Negligence is composed of four different elements, which include:
- A legal duty of care owed to others
- A violation of this duty of care
- A violation that results in harm to others
- The injured parties suffer damages as a result of that harm
All drivers, including motorcyclists, owe a duty of care to other drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. When they violate a traffic law or engage in other forms of careless behavior and their conduct results in an accident, they can be responsible for any damages that occur. These damages can include compensation for property damage to vehicles, injuries, and other related losses.
How Can a Traffic Ticket for Lane Splitting Affect Your Case?
A motorcyclist can face both a criminal and civil case when lane splitting leads to a collision. Overall, these cases remain separate and generally do not affect each other – if the other party’s traffic case gets dismissed, it will not prevent you from seeking personal injury damages. However, a traffic ticket can serve as the evidence you need to prove fault for the collision.
Potential Damages in Lane Splitting Accidents
When lane splitting leads to an accident, the accident victims can seek compensation from the responsible parties through a personal injury action. The process of getting compensated for your injuries often begins with insurance claims against the insurance policies of the at-fault motorcyclists or motorists.
This compensation or damages can take different forms. For instance, some damages are economic, and others are non-economic. They might include:
- Lost wages from being off work
- Medical bills to treat injuries
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Compensation for emotional distress
- Compensation for loss of enjoyment of life
How Long do You Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit in Florida?
Under Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a), injury victims usually have four years from the date of the accident to file personal injury lawsuits based on negligence in court. Therefore, getting legal advice about your situation early on in the process can be crucial to meeting these (and other) essential deadlines.
Our Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Can Seek Compensation for You
Our law firm represents accident victims across Florida, fighting for their financial recovery. When you hire us for your lane splitting accident claim, our motorcycle accident lawyers will:
- Look for evidence of lane splitting or other acts of negligence, such as traffic tickets, traffic cam footage, and eyewitness testimony
- Identify the liable party and the damages you suffered
- Calculate a fair settlement amount to seek
- Build a compelling case to prove the other party’s liability
- Negotiate with auto insurers
- Let you know when it may be necessary to go to court
- File your motorcycle accident lawsuit within Florida’s filing window
We provide these services from several locations throughout the state, including Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Jacksonville. However, our attorneys will travel to your home, work, or hospital room to discuss the case and your legal options free of charge. In addition, our initial consultations are free, and we take payment only from the awards we win. Our firm ensures there is no downside to choosing us for your case.
Contact Us for a Free Evaluation of Your Case
When you want to know if lane splitting is legal in Florida and other information about your legal rights after a car accident, we are here to help. We can answer your questions and provide you with the information that you need in this situation.
Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case. We are waiting to hear from you and give you the answers that you need: 1-800-747-3733.
We Can Help.