The answer to this question, of motorcyclists splitting lanes or driving between two lanes of stopped or moving traffic is yes, it is a violation of Florida Law. Lane sharing on the other hand, where 2 motorcyclists are sharing the same lane in opposite positions of each other is not a violation of Florida law. Lane splitting is a very dangerous activity because it not only puts the motorcyclist are risk but other drivers as well. Too many things can go wrong and because of the distance between vehicles, the motorcyclist would have limited control or enough time to anticipate the actions of another driver. If an accident does occur when the motorcyclist is lane splitting, they will be held at fault for the collision and of breaking the law. This would almost always result in the motorcyclist not being able to recover damages because his driving behavior contributed to, if not caused the accident. Serious injuries and sometimes death can occur when cyclist’s lane split, especially at high speeds.
What can happen when Motorcyclists Lane-Split
The most obvious answer is that when cyclists drive their motorcycles between traffic moving in the same direction, other drivers have no advanced warning a motorcycle is about to overtake them. If the vehicle is in stopped traffic, the driver or passenger could decide to open their door for any reason, or get out of the car and that simple action could cause a traffic accident with dire consequences. If the motorcyclist is travelling at a fast speed approaching and passing stopped cars or trucks, the distance between cars ahead might be reduced and the result could be a collision between the motorcycle and the other vehicle. If traffic is moving at a moderate or high rate of speed and the motorcyclist decides to pass between cars, the other drivers not anticipating that the motorcyclists is about to break the law, by passing between them, could be startled and one or both drivers could make a mistake and over steer their car. This could start a chain reaction and put other drivers at risk. Automobiles and trucks have blind spots and lane splitting motorcyclists, already at a disadvantage of not being seen due to their size and shape, could be sideswiped especially if passing on the right. Motorcyclists splitting lanes in stopped traffic are vulnerable to oncoming cars making turns across their path because the unsuspecting driver believes the way is clear because the traffic is stopped. Automobile and truck drivers who are distracted by cell phones, texting, gaming, music or videos playing, or lack of concentration for other reasons cause motorcyclists performing lane splits more susceptible to accidents and injuries. Motorcyclists assume a greater degree of risk when lane splitting, because the roadways in Florida were not designed for such behaviors.
And last but not least, motorcyclists who perform lane splitting are at risk of intolerant driver’s road rage which could lead to an accident with injuries or even death.
Benefits of State Legalized Lane Splitting
Many states have adopted lane splitting as an accepted practice for motorcyclists. California is one state where lane splitting has been practiced for a number of years and because of its controversial nature, safety studies are currently being conducted. The premise of allowing motorcycles to split lanes, to increase a motorcycles mobility, makes driving one safer. A cyclist can maneuver his or her motorcycle to positions of safety by not being restrained by the ordinary flow of traffic. By placing themselves in open sections of the roadway, like splitting lanes, thus allows a cyclist to strategically place themselves in pockets of lower congestion. This is performed to improve safety and allows cyclists to distance themselves from hazards such as large trucks or congested automobile traffic travelling at moderate to high rates of speed. Motorcycles are also allowed to split lanes at traffic lights and because of the motorcycle being faster from a dead start position can get out in front of traffic when starting out. As motorcycles travel in non-conventional patterns, this also allows them to be seen more and improve their own view of the road ahead. Additionally, lane-splitting has been sighted with reducing fuel consumption and thus reduce the effects of carbon emissions.
California Studies Reveal Lane-Splitting Risks
There appears to be increased risks involved with cyclists engaging in lane-splitting driving because the motorcycles themselves come much closer to other vehicles when traveling in a lane between vehicles. This reduced space increases the chance of the vehicles coming into contact with each other and can reduce reaction time for both drivers in the event of contact being made. Many times automobile and pick-up trucks perform lane changes without signaling or seeing a motorcyclist performing a lane splitting maneuver. Additionally, since the motorcycle is traveling in an area that is between lanes many hazards exist such as striping, pavement markings and reflector dots increasing the chance of a motorcycle mishap.
Cyclists Assume their Own Level of Risk
As an experienced motorcyclist, Artie Shimek understands the risks associated with operating a motorcycle, motorcycle scooter or bicycle on our highways and roads. Artie and his staff have handled 1000’s of motorcycle, automobile and truck accidents that have resulted in an injury or death for over 25 years. Everyday someone is injured in an accident due to the negligence of others. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a careless mistakes committed by another party give Artie a call at 850-434-7995 or visit the Law Office of Artie Shimek on his website at shimeklaw.com.