Florida is somewhat of a motorcycle Mecca in the United States. Not only do many residents in Florida have motorcycles of their own, but this is a major tourist destination for motorcycles, particularly the annual Bike Week in Daytona Beach. It is not uncommon to see motorcyclists traveling down the center lane of two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction – a practice commonly referred to as lane splitting. In Florida, lane splitting is not legal, but this practice is legal in a few other areas around the country.
What is Lane Splitting?
Most individuals have seen motorcycles lane splitting before. Lane splitting happens when a motorcyclist travels down the center dotted line between two lanes of traffic that are already going in the same direction. The motorcyclist essentially “splits” down the two lanes of traffic by creating their own lane in the middle of the vehicles.
Typically, we will see that lane splitting occurs if traffic is moving relatively slowly or as congested. Lane splitting also occurs when traffic has come to a standstill. Most motorcyclists say that they practice lane splitting in order to get away from traffic congestion, which can indeed be dangerous for a motorcyclist, particularly when it comes to being vulnerable to rear-end accidents.
Where is Lane Splitting Legal?
As we mentioned, lane splitting is not legal in the state of Florida. Lane splitting is currently legal in California and Arizona. California has had lane-splitting laws on the books for a few years now, and studies were even conducted by Dr. Tamir Rise of US Berkeley, Safe Transportation Research & Education Center (SafeTrec). The study found that motorcycle riders were less likely to be rear-ended in heavy traffic if they were allowed to lane split to get away from traffic congestion.
As of March 2022, motorcyclists in Arizona are also allowed to practice lane splitting. Lane splitting laws have been debated in other states, and it would not be surprising if this practice became legal in other areas around the country over the next few years.
Will Lane Splitting be Legal in Florida?
Right now, there are currently no discussions in the Florida legislature about whether or not lane splitting should be legalized. However, Florida is an incredibly popular destination for motorcycles. Unfortunately, information from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicates that there were 8,694 total motorcycle accidents across the state during the latest reporting year. Out of these incidents, there were 544 fatalities and more than 10,000 total motorcyclist injuries. Based on this information, it is likely that Florida will discuss lane splitting at some point in the future, at least in the context of trying to reduce motorcycle injuries and fatalities.
Because lane splitting is illegal in Florida, we caution all motorcyclists against practicing this maneuver in this state. Even if you think this will increase your safety, there are various reasons why this is not the case.
Drivers in California and Arizona know to expect that a motorcyclist may zoom by them in the center lane, but not drivers in Florida. This type of action will catch regular motorists in Florida off guard, and lane splitting is more likely to lead to an accident. Motorists could change lanes right into a lane-splitting motorcyclist, or this type of activity could scare other drivers and cause them to roll into other lanes of traffic. Additionally, because lane splitting is illegal, motorcyclists could be stopped by law enforcement officials and cited for reckless driving.