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How Safe Is Florida Motorcycle Lane Splitting?

Millions have viewed the helmet cam video, from early in April 2016, of a road rage incident that escalated from a case of motorcycle lane splitting. The incident, in Homestead FL fortunately did not result in any deaths or injuries but it could easily have led to that. In one scene the biker was traveling well over 100 mph and going against traffic to allegedly escape from the enraged car driver after deliberately striking his mirror. The final outcome, after an investigation, were summonses issued to both drivers. It could have been a lot worse.

Florida motorcycle lane splitting is when a motorcycle or group of motorcycles decides to pass traffic between lanes to avoid being delayed. It may occur while traffic is stopped for a light, stopped or slowed by an accident or construction, or just heavy volume during rush hour. Whatever the reason for motorcycle lane splitting it is illegal in Florida and most other states. California and a few others are exceptions.

It is very tempting to motorcycle riders who are in heavy traffic to, either split the lane, or take the shoulder, rather than try to balance at extremely low speeds or stop and go when they see a clear path ahead. Both of these tactics are illegal The practice of lane splitting, according to some studies, is dangerous as the other drivers will not see the approaching bikes and cut in front of them suddenly. However, most bikers will vehemently argue that point. Their case is that it is more dangerous to be behind cars in a stop and go situation, being at risk of being struck from behind. A rear end motorcycle accident will produce more injuries and damage than being cut off at slow speeds. However bikers do no always split lanes at slow speeds.

At present there is a petition circulating [1] on Change.org titled “Legalize Lane Splitting for Motorcycles in the State of Florida” authored by Jeffery Jane of Dover, FL and intended for Governor Rick Scott and Senator Marco Rubio. The petition cites a California Berkeley study with the assistance of the California Highway Patrol. The study showed that out of 7,876 motorcycle crashes 1,163 involved lane splitting. Riders who were lane splitting at the time of the accident were significantly less likely to be injured that those who weren’t. Head injuries were 25 percent fewer, neck injuries 21 percent fewer, 32 percent fewer torso injuries and 55 percent fewer fatalities.  What is not answered here is whether there would have been less overall accidents without lane splitting.

The petition also makes the claim that lane splitting would lead to less traffic because each bike that filters through leaves room for another vehicle.

This debate has many other views and statistics both pro and con. It likely will not be decided for a considerable length of time. Meanwhile lane splitting remains illegal. A motorcyclist who is in a crash while violating the law has a reduced chance of recovering damages by proving negligence as opposed to a cyclist who was obeying the law at the time of a crash. That does not mean that the other driver could not be partially at fault, it just makes the case more difficult.

Any motorcycle rider who is involved in a Florida Motorcycle crash should seek the aid of a Florida motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Motorcycle accidents involve different laws than car accidents. No-fault insurance laws do not apply to motorcycles and motorcyclists are not offered personal injury protection in Florida. A motorcyclist who is injured may only have one legal avenue to pursue, which is suing the other driver. To be successful a Florida motorcycle accident attorney is paramount to the case.

Dolman Law Group has a proven track record of successfully representing victims of motorcycle accidents. If you or a loved one were injured, reach out to the Florida motorcycle attorneys at Dolman Law Group today for a free consultation. Call 727-451-6900 today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
727-451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/motorcycle-accident-attorneys/

References:

[1] https://www.change.org/p/richard-scott-legalize-lane-splitting-for-motorcycles-in-the-state-of-florida