Motorcyclists love Florida, and Ocala provides some excellent highway time for enthusiasts of all levels. With so much open, flat road, groups of five, ten, or even dozens of bikers become a common sight.
With so much quality roadway available to enjoy, you probably feel tempted to hit the road. However, being unaware of Florida’s motorcycle laws could put you and other drivers at risk. This is true for some common motorcycle driving practices, such as lane splitting.
Whether you’re a year-round resident of Florida, or a visitor headed for Bike Week in Daytona, it pays to understand Florida traffic laws. At Pam Olsen Law, we want to help you make informed decisions regarding your motorcycle travel.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Most travelers have seen lane splitting in action. This traffic pattern occurs on two lanes of traffic that move in the same direction. These lanes are typically on either side of a four-lane highway.
When lane splitting, motorcyclists travel along the center dotted line between the two lanes. As a result, they often travel between cars.
Lane splitting occurs most often in congested or halted traffic patterns. Even though lane splitting may seem convenient, it significantly increases the danger of traffic accidents.
Lane Splitting vs. Lane Sharing
To clarify, lane splitting is not the same as lane sharing. Lane sharing involves a single lane of traffic. However, lane splitting involves two one-way lanes of traffic.
While lane sharing, vehicles ride in pairs of two in a single lane. When lane-splitting, motorcyclists pass between two fully-occupied traffic lanes.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Ocala, FL?
Like any other motor vehicle, motorcycles must legally occupy an entire traffic lane. In addition, motorcyclists can share lanes or ride side-by-side in a single lane. However, Florida statutes prohibit lane splitting.
Regardless of why it occurs, lane splitting is not currently legal in Ocala or anywhere in Florida at the time of this writing. No rider, on or in any vehicle, may travel between lanes of traffic or rows of vehicles.
Laws about Same-Lane Passing
Motorists should know that the same Florida statute that discusses lane splitting also makes it illegal to pass other vehicles in the same traffic lane. Legislators outlined this language because lane splitting often occurs due to a motorcyclist’s attempt to pass a slow-moving vehicle.
If caught, motorists may receive a moving violation for any incidence of lane splitting. How a moving violation impacts you depends on your driving record and other factors. Furthermore, the fine amounts in Florida vary by county.
Why Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?
Florida legislators successfully pushed to make lane splitting illegal in Florida. This practice poses many dangers to motorcyclists, other drivers, and their passengers. But why is lane splitting so dangerous?
Unpredictable Traffic Movement
First, motorcyclists can’t predict the movements of other drivers. In congested traffic, drivers may move erratically and change lanes without checking their side or rear view mirrors. This tendency toward unpredictable movement makes traveling between lanes—lane splitting—dangerous for all drivers.
Reduced Lane Size
The space between cars in two-lane traffic may be wide enough for a motorcycle to pass through. However, this space will never be as wide as a regular traffic lane. Therefore, this tight space often results in clipping, which causes damage to the motorcycle and surrounding vehicles.
Motorcyclists also have far less protection than cars or trucks. Consequently, clipping incidents significantly increase the risk of injury motorcyclists face.
Many motorcyclists speed up while lane splitting. Increased speed reduces the driver’s reaction time to unexpected elements, such as lane-changing, wide vehicles, etc. Driving at high speed likewise increases the chances of injury or accident on the road.
Will Lane Splitting in Florida Ever Be Legal?
Motorcycle accidents happen with alarming frequency in Florida. Furthermore, many of those accidents result in fatalities. For this reason, Florida legislators remain committed to reducing traffic hazards and keeping all drivers safe on Florida roads.
At this time, no proposed legislation exists that involves loosening Florida lane-splitting laws. If you travel by motorcycle anywhere in Florida, we caution you to follow traffic laws. Avoid lane splitting and single-lane passing during your transit.
Where Is Lane Splitting Legal?
Travelers from California or Arizona may be familiar with different laws regarding lane splitting. In these states, lane splitting is currently legal.
Legislators in these two states have responded to studies that indicate lane splitting increases safety for motorcycle drivers. As a result, they allow lane splitting with some restrictions on highways and roads.
Because lane splitting is legal in California and Arizona, drivers from these states may attempt to perform lane-splitting maneuvers while driving in Florida. Additionally, these drivers may not be on the lookout for other drivers performing lane splitting. For this reason, we caution drivers to be aware and avoid lane splitting for any reason.
Find Dependable Legal Help in Ocala, Florida
If you’ve suffered a related accident, you may need legal guidance. To increase your chances of a positive legal outcome, contact motorcycle accident lawyer Pamela Olsen, Esq. Pam utilizes her extensive background in Florida law to understand your case and help you plot a legal strategy.
Call Attorney Olsen today at (352) 671-9777 to schedule a free consultation.