Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist travels on the dotted line between moving vehicles on a road with at least two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. Many motorcyclists engage in lane splitting in an attempt to avoid congestion caused by slow-moving traffic.
Florida Statute 316.20 addresses this topic. It states that no person is permitted to operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of other vehicles. Engaging in this practice in the state of Florida could result in a moving violation.
Thoughts of the safety of lane splitting are divided amongst groups. Some say that lane splitting helps motorcyclists to avoid being rear-ended. Others, however, believe that this practice is dangerous because motorcyclists could potentially be struck during lane changes. It can also cause anxiety to other drivers when motorcyclists go by.
One study on lane splitting in California found that 17% of motorcycle accidents were directly linked to this practice. This study addressed 5,969 collisions involving motorcyclists. Of the 5,969 collisions, 997 were engaging in lane-splitting maneuvers at the time of the collision. The conclusion of the data from this study suggests that travel speeds while lane splitting heavily contributed to the likelihood of a collision.
In a subsequent study, data collected from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles showed an average of 8,694 crashes involving motorcycles occurred from 2018 to 2020. Of those 8,694 collisions, 544 fatalities were reported. The high rate of motorcycle collisions is likely why the state of Florida is hesitant to introduce lane splitting on their roadways.
For the time being, lane splitting is illegal in the state of Florida. There is currently no legislation in Florida addressing this topic, but it will likely be discussed in the future. Until then, moving violations are a possibility for those caught lane splitting.
While lane splitting is only legal in California, lane filtering is permissible in Arizona, Montana, and Utah. Lane filtering is different from lane splitting in that lane filtering requires that traffic be stopped rather than slow-moving like with lane splitting. Some consider this practice to be safer than traditional lane-splitting techniques.
Several bills have been presented over the years attempting to legalize lane splitting. Arizona HB 2285 addresses lane filtering. While this House Bill does not allow lane splitting, it does allow motorcyclists to engage in lane filtering – provided that specific criteria are met.
Lane splitting is a hot topic in the motorcycle world, with opposing sides voicing their passion. There is a divide amongst the population on the safety of lane splitting. Although there is data to support both sides, there is evidence to suggest that the speed at which a motorcyclist is traveling plays a significant role in the safety and likelihood of a collision when lane splitting. The correlation between high travel speeds when lane splitting and the likelihood of collision cannot be ignored. If done responsibly, lane splitting can provide a safer commute for motorcycle riders.
Another question proposed on this topic is whether or not it is worth the time and cost to change legislation on lane splitting. It has been stated that motorcycle riders are too few to constitute a legislation change. And with so few motorcycle riders, would the impact on congestion make a significant difference? Many believe it will not.
The debate on the topic of lane splitting is divided among the population. There are benefits to allowing motorcycles to lane-split, but there is still the question of whether or not the benefits outweigh the time, effort, and cost to accomplish. On the grand scale of things, it would seem more troublesome to change than it is worth. That being said, however, it is still something that will be debated for the foreseeable future.
Legal Team. (2022). Is Lane Splitting Legal in Florida?
Bergal, J. (2018). Motorcycle Lane-Splitting: Safe or Scary?
The Florida Senate. (2012). Chapter 316 Section 209 – 2012 Florida Statutes
Rice, T., et al. (2015). Motorcycle Lane-splitting and Safety in California
Rhodes, T. (n.d.). Crash Dashboard – Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles