It doesn’t take long to grow impatient during rush hour on I-275 or US 19 in the Tampa Bay area. If you’re on a motorcycle, it’s often tempting to ride between lanes of slowly-moving traffic to try and cut down on the time of your commute. This maneuver is called “lane splitting,” and while common, it’s illegal in the Sunshine State.
Lane splitting happens when motorcyclists take advantage of the space between two lanes of traffic by exiting their lane and riding in that space in the direction of traffic. Usually, riders lane split when traffic moves slowly or comes to a halt. Once outside of the congested lane, a motorcycle rider can travel faster than the vehicles stuck in traffic. Some people think there could be safety benefits to doing this, while others believe it could increase the potential for accidents. In reality, it may bring both benefits and risks depending on the situation. Regardless, lane splitting is illegal in Florida, and evidence of having done this could affect your personal injury claim.
Defining “Lane Splitting” in the Florida Statutes
Florida Statute §316.209 permits motorcycles to take up a full lane, yet prohibits motorcycles from traveling between lanes of traffic or “between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.” The statute does allow two motorcycles to ride side-by-side; however, no more than two motorcycles may occupy a single lane side-by-side. Riding side-by-side is called “lane sharing” and differs from lane splitting.
Some Studies Show Lane Splitting is Safe
A University of California at Berkeley study found that lane splitting can be a safe way for motorcyclists to maneuver around heavy, slow-moving traffic:
- The rider, by finding a way out of stop-and-go traffic, can decrease his chance of becoming a victim in a rear-end crash;
- The rider can keep away from negligent drivers;
- The rider reduces his time exposed to danger; and
- The rider can get to his destination faster, which is beneficial in bad weather.
Less time spent in traffic can also help riders avoid overheating during Florida’s sizzling summer months. Motorcycle riders who get ahead can also exit the highways faster, helping to reduce congestion.
Reasons Lane Splitting Might Be Dangerous
It’s possible that lane splitting can help motorcycle riders move past congestion, but there are still some potential dangers associated with the maneuver:
- Lane splitting decreases the distance between vehicles in adjacent lanes. This reduces room for error, meaning small mistakes could lead to a collision.
- Lane splitting can make changing lanes more dangerous since car drivers aren’t used to checking for motorcycles. Riders going too fast may not get a chance to hit the brakes when a driver up ahead is leaving their lane.
As of today, lane splitting is only legal in California. Therefore, even if you’re a proponent of lane splitting, you should follow the rules of the road in Florida to avoid receiving a citation and potentially suffering an injury.
How Lane Splitting Could Affect Your Motorcycle Injury Claim
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in St. Petersburg and you were found to be lane splitting, you could be held liable for your accident. This means that you could forfeit your right to compensation for your losses, such as property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and any other expense that was a result of the crash.
In a motorcycle crash in which a driver was allegedly lane splitting, it may be possible to find the other party partially liable for the accident under Florida’s Comparative Fault Law if the other party acted negligently. In a pure comparative fault system, your level of negligence will not prevent you from recovering compensation completely, so long as the other party was somewhat responsible for the accident. If the jury finds that you were 80% at fault for the accident in which you were injured, you could still recover 20% of your damages from the other party. Speak with a dedicated motorcycle accident lawyer in St. Petersburg to determine if you have a case.
Contact St. Pete’s Best Motorcycle Injury Lawyer
Frank P. Marsalisi of Marsalisi Law has over 10 years of experience working with motorcycle accident victims. He’s had many successful case results as a member of the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association. His unique background representing motorcycle accident victims means he knows what to expect from the other side when handling your case. If you’re too injured to come to his law firm, he will come to you.
Rest assured that your motorcycle injury claim will be handled professionally and you will stay updated on the status of your claim. At Marsalisi Law, our goal is to help you obtain the compensation you deserve while you can focus on your recovery. If you’ve suffered an injury due to the negligence of others, contact our firm at (727) 800-5052 for a free consultation, or complete our contact form. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and support you through this challenging time. Marsalisi Law is Where Law Gets Personal.