Lane splitting is the term used when a motorcycle driver drives between two lanes to bypass traffic. This practice is illegal in Florida but, unfortunately, some drivers still utilize this practice. This practice can be very dangerous as you come very close to the cars you are passing illegally. You are very likely to take the drivers by surprise.
Driving a motorcycle in a high traffic area can be dangerous enough. Lane splitting can increase the likelihood of certain types of accidents, including collisions with cars and other vehicles on the road.
Who is Liable For an Accident When a Motorcyclist Splits Lanes?
Several factors can come into play when assessing liability for a crash that involves a motorcyclist who was lane splitting. Most states, Florida included, make it illegal to lane split. Unless there were other factors leading up to the accident that required the motorcyclist to lane split to avoid another hazard, the likelihood is that the motorcyclist will be held at fault.
Another factor that can come into play with a motorcycle accident that involves lane splitting is if it can be easily proven that the lane splitting is what caused the accident. Was the traffic slow or not moving at the time the accident occurred? Was the motorcyclist lane splitting to get around a traffic jam? Details like these will determine liability.
Is Lane Splitting Legal?
In California, the practice of lane splitting is allowed. This is done so that a motorcyclist can move through congested traffic that is either slow or stopped. California happens to be the only state that allows lane splitting. Advocates for motorcycle safety make arguments that “lane splitting” is actually safer for a motorcyclist.
Motorcycle safety advocates argue that “lane-splitting” allows a motorcyclist to move through stop and go traffic. This enables them to have control and place themselves in a safer place away from larger vehicles beside or behind them. A motorcyclist may use lane splitting to get in a spot that makes them more visible to traffic.
Does Lane Splitting Cause More Accidents?
Crash statistics show that a motorcyclist who can lane share is less likely to be rear-ended. Stats can be used to compare California motorcycle accidents to those in other states. California has a lower rate of fatal rear-end motorcycle crashes.
On the other hand, motorcyclists who lane split have a higher rate of rear-ending another vehicle. They are also at a greater risk for being hit by another vehicle who doesn’t see a lane splitting motorcycle when they are changing lanes.
Data from California shows that lane splitting is generally safe at lower speeds. A lane splitting motorcyclist can also increase their safety by recognizing the impact of weather conditions on roads, avoiding larger vehicles, and staying out of blind spots. Riding on the shoulder is dangerous for all drivers and is not considered lane splitting.
Of course, you should not engage in lane splitting in a state that prohibits it. California is the only state in which it is permitted.
Other motorists can also play a part in the safety of motorcyclists. All drivers should do their best to share the road responsibly. Use caution when changing lanes or making a turn. Be courteous. If you see a motorcycle lane splitting don’t be angry, make room.