Biketoberfest is a fantastic event in Daytona. If you love to ride and haven’t experienced it before, you owe it to yourself to do just that, but make sure you do it safely and that you arrive there safely because motorcycle accidents can be deadly.
If you were in an accident that was caused by someone else, a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath is ready to help you through the insurance claims process. Call us at (561) 655-1990 or use our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation review of your case.
In the meantime, review these lane-splitting laws before you hit the road.
What exactly is “lane-splitting?”
Florida Statute § 316.209 defines lane-splitting as riding a motorcycle between adjacent rows of vehicles, lines of vehicles, or between traffic lanes. When traffic is slow, or stopped completely, there’s a pretty good chance a motorcyclist will try to “game the system,” in a manner of speaking, in an effort to save some time. As dangerous and illegal lane-splitting is, it still happens frequently in Florida.
To say this is a controversial topic is putting it mildly. Lane-splitting enrages people stuck in their cars in traffic, some even getting so angry that they’ll try to veer into the motorcycle’s path or will even open their door so the rider slams into it.
Florida Laws Regarding Lane Splitting
Florida Statute § 316.209 states that riders cannot:
- Overtake and pass in the same lane that’s occupied by the vehicle they’re overtaking
- Operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles
However, riders are not prohibited from sharing their lane with another motorcyclist, riding side-by-side.
So, why do riders continue to split lanes, even when they know it’s incredibly risky, and also clearly against the law? Some of them believe it’s safer than being stuck between vehicles such as between large vehicles where they’re less visible to other drivers.
The problem with the assumption that it’s safer for a motorcyclist to split lanes to avoid being caught between vehicles is that drivers usually don’t expect a motorcycle to come up beside them period, much less to split lanes. This means that a collision will typically be imminent, especially when the following occur:
- The driver tries to change lanes when the one they’re in slows to a crawl.
- The vehicle driver changes speed when the motorcyclist doesn’t expect them to do so.
- The driver changes lanes without using their turn signal.
It doesn’t make sense on the surface, but the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has actually stated that lane-splitting should be further studied because it shows potential as a partial solution to traffic congestion. However, the NHTSA also stated that riders and drivers both need to be thoroughly educated so that they act as safely as possible on the roadway.
While lane-splitting is illegal in Florida, it won’t lead to jail time because it’s a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation. Lane-splitters might get a ticket and a fine, but that’s about it from a law enforcement perspective.
The costs associated with causing an accident while lane-splitting, on the other hand, are completely different.
If you cause a wreck because you were lane-splitting – especially if severe injuries are caused – you can expect to be sued. If the injured party’s attorney can prove that you were riding in this reckless fashion, you’ll almost certainly lose. If (when) that happens, your insurance company will wind up paying the victim the following types of compensation:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of quality of life
Not only will your insurance rates skyrocket, there’s also a chance the carrier could cancel your policy completely, causing it to be very difficult for you to get any kind of coverage whatsoever.
If you’re uninsured or under-insured, the financial consequences are even worse. If the victim’s damages are in excess of your policy coverage, they may be able to go after your personal assets–your money, your bike, and potentially even your home.
The risks associated with lane-splitting simply aren’t worth saving a few minutes on a trip. Please don’t do it.
Call Us for a Free Consultation
If you were involved in an accident involving a motorcyclist, whether you’re the motorcyclist or not, contact the Florida motorcycle accident lawyers with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath right away because some of the most crucial evidence is collected right after an accident.
Call us at (561) 655-1990 or use our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation review of your case.