Motorcycle lane splitting refers to driving between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, on the line between lanes. Lane splitting is a hotly debated topic among motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists alike, with some arguing its safety and others believing it to be unnecessarily dangerous. Currently, the only state to legally permit motorcycle lane splitting is California. However, Florida may adopt a lane-splitting law in the future, especially thanks to petitions supporting the practice. Here’s what to know about this practice and the law in Florida.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting happens when a motorcycle rides between two lanes of traffic. Lane splitting is not lane filtering, in which a motorcycle weaves between stopped cars to get to the front of a line. In California, lane splitting is acceptable as long as motorcyclists use common sense safety practices when doing so.
Although the California Department of Motor Vehicles removed its lane-splitting guidelines, they ask motorcyclists to watch their speeds, assume motorists don’t see them and avoid blind spots while lane splitting. Lane splitting recklessly or at too high a speed could result in a traffic citation in California. So far, no other state has followed California’s lead in legalizing lane splitting.
Lane splitting is illegal in Florida. Riding a motorcycle in-between lanes in Florida will result in a traffic ticket – whether the motorcyclist is doing so safely or not. However, many motorcyclists, lawmakers, and others are striving to legalize lane splitting in Florida’s future. Many argue that lane splitting keeps motorcyclists safer and reduces traffic congestion. Yet others say it’s more dangerous for motorcyclists and can startle surrounding drivers.
The Lane-Splitting Debate in Florida
Why hasn’t Florida followed California’s lead on lane splitting? Lawmakers haven’t agreed to pass lane-splitting laws due to arguments against its safety and prudence. Too many groups reject the practice and condemn it as overly risky. People against lane-splitting argue that it can startle other drivers and increase the risk of sudden reactions and that it may increase side-swipe and merge collisions.
Arguments for motorcycle lane splitting include:
- It reduces traffic congestion since motorcycles can move to the front and exit the road or highway faster.
- Allows motorcyclists to exit the road or reach their destinations faster during bad weather conditions, or hot weather that exposes them to a risk of overheating.
- Keeps motorcycles to the sides of vehicles and decreases the risk of rear-end collisions, which can be deadly for bikers.
- Protects motorcyclists from distracted and negligent drivers by creating distance between motorcycles and other motor vehicles.
- Doesn’t trap motorcycles between two motor vehicles. Motorcyclists can minimize their time exposed to danger (TED) on the road with lane splitting.
Sergeant Derrick Rahming of the Florida Highway Patrol stated in an interview that he believes lane-splitting will eventually become part of Florida’s law. It’s a view that many others in the state share, especially after a lane-splitting safety study from Berkeley found that lane splitting could reduce the risk of serious injuries for motorcyclists. Until the law changes, however, Florida motorcyclists legally cannot ride between lanes without risking a traffic citation and liability for a related accident.
Keep Yourself Safe as a Florida Motorcyclist
Always obey state laws when riding a motorcycle in Florida. Breaking the law can increase your risk of causing an accident – as well as the odds of absorbing liability for the said accident. Although Florida is a no-fault state, a personal injury lawsuit could arise if injuries from the crash are severe enough. Don’t ride between lanes under any circumstances in Florida, unless and until the state’s lane-splitting law changes. If Florida does ever legalize lane splitting, the law will likely be similar to California’s statute. You will still have to ride with reasonable caution and care.