Is Lane Splitting Legal in Florida?
Posted in Florida Laws on April 24, 2018
Lane-splitting refers to a motorcycle driving between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction – “splitting” the lanes. Lane-splitting is a controversial motorcycle maneuver with plenty of confusion surrounding whether or not it’s legal. California, the first state to start taking steps toward legalizing lane-splitting, has brought many to wonder about the legality of this practice in other states, including Florida. Both drivers and motorcyclists alike can benefit from learning the lane-splitting laws in the Sunshine State.
What Is Lane-Splitting?
First, understand exactly what lane-splitting is and why it’s an issue of controversy across America. When a motorcycle rides between two marked lanes of traffic, he or she is lane-splitting. Lane-splitting is not the same as “filtering,” in which a motorcycle moves between stopped vehicles to get to the front of the line (often at a stoplight). Instead, lane-splitting takes place while lanes of traffic are still in motion. There are groups that support and groups that reject lane-splitting. Supporters say that lane-splitting keeps a motorcyclist safer for the following reasons:
- Motorcyclists aren’t stuck in stop-and-go traffic, decreasing the risk of rear-end collisions
- Motorcyclists don’t have to stay near distracted or negligent drivers
- Motorcyclists can get to their destinations faster in poor weather conditions
- Motorcyclists have an “escape route” instead of being trapped between vehicles
- It reduces motorcyclists’ “TED” – time exposed to danger – on the road
- It reduces the odds of motorcycles (and their riders) overheating in hot weather
Lane-splitting can also reduce traffic congestion on busy roads by allowing motorcyclists to exit sooner. People who are against lane-splitting believe that it’s dangerous to both motorcyclists and other drivers. They say that speeding motorcycles startle other drivers who are sitting in traffic, increasing the risk of knee-jerk reactions behind the wheel. It may also increase the risk of side-swipe and merge accidents if motorists don’t see motorcycles in-between lanes. Whether you fall on the supportive or disapproving side of the argument, you must obey the law within the state. As of today, only California has passed any type of statute permitting lane-splitting.
California’s Pioneering Lane-Splitting Laws
When California first passed its “lane-splitting law,” which wasn’t really a law at all, it simply gave regulatory guidelines to help motorcyclists lane-split safely. After much debate and legislative back and forth, California lawmakers released guidelines stating that motorcyclists could indeed ride between two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction as long as the rider does not travel more than 10 miles per hour faster than surrounding traffic, and only if traffic is moving slower than 30 miles per hour. So far, no other states have followed California’s lead to regulate legal lane-splitting.
No, Lane-Splitting Is Not Legal in Florida (Yet)
The simple, straightforward answer to the question of lane-splitting’s legality in Florida is no, it is not legal. Riding a motorcycle (or bicycle, for that matter) between two lanes of traffic in the same direction is against the law in the Sunshine State. Motorcyclists guilty of lane-splitting could receive traffic citations from law enforcement. If a lane-splitting biker gets into an accident, he or she may be at least partially liable for damages for negligently engaging in the illegal activity of lane-splitting.
If and when Florida does decide to pass a statute legalizing and regulating lane-splitting, it will likely be similar to California’s current statute. Until that day comes, however, motorcyclists should never lane-split between two rows of traffic. Bicyclists also cannot ride between lanes. In Florida, a bicycle is technically a motor vehicle. As such, it must stay within its own lane, not ride next to a motor vehicle in the same lane. If you were recently in a motorcycle accident involving lane-splitting, talk to Florida personal injury attorneys to protect your rights. These claims are notoriously complex.