If you are a motorcyclist in Florida, you may find it tempting at times to engage in lane splitting. As traffic crawls along or comes to a complete stop on a heavily congested, four-lane road, you may see an easy opportunity to zip between two lanes of traffic until you find some open road. Indeed, many motorcyclists see lane splitting as a perfectly safe, common sense way to navigate traffic.
However, as tempting as it may be, you should know: Lane splitting is illegal in Florida. If you try lane splitting in our state, you could get a ticket. You could also hurt your ability to recover compensation if you should get into a motorcycle accident involving another vehicle. An insurance company may try to use your traffic violation against you.
Here, we discuss some important things that you should know about lane splitting in Florida, including how it could potentially affect your rights and options after a motorcycle accident. To discuss the specific facts of your case, however, you should contact us at Englander Peebles in Fort Lauderdale. We will provide a free consultation.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting refers to riding a motorcycle between two lanes of stopped or slowed traffic. Because the motorcyclist typically rides on the painted line dividing the lanes, people frequently refer to it as white lining or stripe riding.
Currently, lane splitting is banned in every state except for one – California, which lifted its ban on lane splitting in 2016. However, according to Pew Charitable Trusts, at least 15 states have considered legislation that would legalize lane splitting.
Lane splitting is different from lane sharing, which occurs when motorcyclists ride side by side in the same lane of traffic. Florida actually allows motorcyclists to ride two abreast in a single lane. Many believe that this practice actually makes motorcyclists more visible and, in turn, increases their safety.
Motorcyclist are afforded the same rights as any other motor vehicle driver on the road. So, they are entitled to the full width of the lane. As a result, it is illegal for car, truck or other motor vehicle drivers to try to share the lane with them. It is also highly dangerous. A motor vehicle driver who tries to share a lane with a motorcyclist could easily run the motorcyclist off the road or cause the motorcyclist to lose control of his or her bike.
Is Lane Splitting Safe or Dangerous?
Whether lane splitting is a safe practice or too dangerous to be allowed on Florida roads is a subject of much debate. Opponents of lane splitting point to the fact that motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles. So, they are less visible. If a motorcyclist tries to split lanes, the motorcyclist could easily get into one of a driver’s blind spots. As a result, the driver could pull in front of the motorcyclist and cause a collision that leaves the motorcyclist with serious or fatal injuries.
On the other hand, proponents claim that lane splitting actually makes motorcycle riding safer. For instance, a University of California Berkeley study concluded that lane-splitting motorcycle riders were significantly less likely to be rear-ended by motor vehicles than non-lane-splitting riders. As long as the lane splitting occurs while traffic is moving at 50 mph or slower, and a motorcyclist does not exceed the speed of other drivers by more than 15 mph, lane splitting can be safe, according to the researchers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a motorcycle’s narrow width can allow it to pass between lanes of cars – but only where the lanes are wide enough to offer a sufficient gap. The NHTSA also said that lane splitting can provide an “escape route” for a motorcyclist who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind.
Other studies, including one by the European research firm, Transport & Mobility Leuven, have found that lane splitting can greatly reduce traffic congestion. If a motorcyclist can find a way to get out of “stop-and-go” traffic, it can greatly reduce the motorcyclist’s risk of getting into a rear-end collision.
Can You Recover Damages If You Were Lane Splitting?
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident in Florida, you must bring a claim against the driver who caused your accident in order to recover compensation. You would file a claim through that driver’s liability auto insurance. If the driver lacks insurance, you could possibly turn to your own uninsured motorist (UM) policy for coverage if you have bought such a policy. (Considering the high rate of uninsured drivers in Florida, you should really carry such coverage.)
Florida has a pure comparative fault system. So, if you were partially to blame for your motorcycle accident, your damages could be reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to you. For example, if you were 30 percent at fault, your damages would be reduced by 30 percent. If you suffered $100,000 in damages, the most you could recover would be $70,000.
Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible to resolve motorcycle accident claims. If they can, they will try to avoid paying anything altogether. So, if you were lane splitting in violation of Florida law, you can expect an insurance company will to try to use it against you.
This is just one of the many reasons why you should seek help from an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer at Englander Peebles if you have been hurt in a crash. We have a reputation for standing up to insurance companies. If an insurance company tries to blame you for your motorcycle crash, you can count on us to skillfully challenge that tactic and fight for all compensation that you are due. If necessary, we will be ready to take your case to trial.
Get Help from Our Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous in Florida. If you suffered harm when riding your motorcycle due to the negligence of another driver, Englander Peebles will aggressively protect your rights and explore all of your options for seeking full and fair compensation. To discuss your case, contact us today.