One of the great joys of motorcycling riding is the feeling of freedom riders have when on the road. Riders often express this by exercising greater maneuverability on the road, including lane splitting. This common behavior, though, is often subject to criticism and is even illegal in many places. If lane splitting is a concern in a motorcycle accident case, contact one of our attorneys to discuss your situation.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting refers to motorcyclists riding between two lanes of traffic that are traveling in the same direction. Essentially, lane splitting is riding between cars for greater mobility. This is a common practice among bikers, but few are certain about whether it is safe or legal.
Regardless of safety, motorcyclists lane split often, and it is important to understand the legal implications of lane splitting in case you are ever in an accident.
Can I Lane Split on Florida Highways?
The short answer to this question from a legal standpoint is no. As of August 2018, only one state in the United States allows lane splitting on its roads, and that is California. Many bikers and law enforcement officials believe it is only a matter of time until lane splitting becomes legal all over the country.
There is little knowledge of the statistical safety of lane splitting, though there is some evidence to suggest it may be safer than many motorists think. Motorcyclists may be able to escape difficult and dangerous road situations by lane splitting and removing themselves from a risky position.
The longer answer, though, is that most states do not necessarily have specific prohibitions against lane splitting. Often it is up to the discretion of a police officer whether or not to enforce restrictions on lane splitting.
Will I Be Responsible for an Accident If I Was Lane Splitting?
Florida is a no-fault state, so insurers can’t deny your claim if you are liable for an accident. That said, it does not mean the other driver cannot bring a lawsuit against you should he or she meet the insurance requirements and do so within the statute of limitations.
Florida motorists usually can only file charges against another driver under so-called “Serious Injury” cases. These are accidents that result in significant, permanent disfigurements or disabilities lasting 90 days or more, as well as bone fractures. If a biker is found negligent in these cases, it is possible for him or her to be charged for any accidents or injuries that may result from lane splitting.
It is far more likely for law enforcement and judges to determine the motorcycle rider is, at least partially, responsible for an auto accident if he or she was lane splitting at the time. This means the motorcyclist will be unable to recover damages in most cases from the other motorist. It ultimately comes down to what the police report states, and what witness testimony supports.
That said, it is not impossible to avoid liability while lane splitting – especially if there is substantial evidence the other motorist was guilty of negligence when it came to causing an accident. Driving cautiously while lane splitting, as well as being an experienced rider, provides a solid defense against charges of negligence while lane splitting, possibly protecting against liability.
When to Talk With an Attorney
Considering Florida’s laws regarding lane splitting, if you find yourself in an accident because you engaged in this practice or because of another’s negligence, you may need an attorney with experience navigating Florida’s traffic laws. Discuss the circumstances of your incident with one of our motorcycle accident attorneys to help you in the aftermath of a lane-splitting accident.