It is almost that time of year when Florida roadways are filled with bikers heading to and from the “Mecca of Motorcycle Racing” at Daytona Beach. Regardless of where you live in north Florida, you will likely see an increase in two-wheel traffic during the ten-day period from early to mid-March. Since the beginning of the Bike Week rally in 1937, more than 500,000 motorcyclists converge upon the tiny beach town each year.
Although the annual event creates its own spring break-like atmosphere for having fun, some bikers fail to observe Florida safety laws as they crisscross the region in the wake of hundreds of bike crashes, some ending in serious injuries or death. By design, motorcycles are inferior to cars at protecting drivers and passengers because they offer very few safety features.
Lane Splitting Safety Laws Are Enforced in Florida
For the most part, motorcycles are treated the same as cars when it comes to following the rules of the road in the Sunshine State. Moreover, Florida Statutes 316.209 limits and protects motorcyclists operating two-wheel vehicles on roadways laned for traffic with these provisions:
- Lane Sharing
- Riding Side-By-Side - Lane sharing in Florida is legal and allows two motorcycle riders to ride in the same lane, either side by side or in a staggered formation.
- Overtaking a Moving Vehicle - A motorcycle can pass traffic, as long as there is a full travel lane to utilize in a safe manner. In Florida, it may not use any part of the lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
- Lane Splitting - Also known as white lining, lane splitting refers to a motorcyclist negotiating and passing moving traffic by predominantly riding on the painted lane-dividing line. Lane splitting is an illegal practice in Florida.
- Lane Filtering - This allows the operator of the motorcycle to overtake and pass another vehicle that is stopped in the same direction of travel. In other words, a motorcyclist can pick their way through stationary (or very slow-moving traffic) to move ahead at a stoplight or intersection. Lane filtering is NOT legal on Florida roadways.
In addition to observing “lane laws”, operators of two-wheel vehicles are required to keep both wheels on the road's surface at all times, facing forward, and one leg on each side of the motorcycle.
Blame It on California
With more motorcycles than most other states, Florida drivers are no strangers to sharing the road with two-wheel vehicles. Unfortunately, when a motorcyclist rides right past them between lanes of traffic, many drivers are left wondering if what they saw was a legal maneuver or not. After all, lane sharing by two motorcycles being operated in a safe manner and choosing to ride side-by-side is legal.
Good or bad, many new trends start on the West Coast. So, it is no surprise that legal variances in operating a motorcycle on California roadways are no exception. In an attempt to lower pollution and increase traffic flow, California has legalized lane splitting and lane filtering. Although a few additional states are considering legalization, many intentionally do not mention it so the action is not specifically prohibited but can be managed by the Highway Patrol's determination of what is an unsafe act.
If you or a loved one are involved in an accident involving a motorcycle, it is important to seek the advice of legal counsel in order to protect your rights. Call 877-798-7700 to schedule an appointment with an experienced personal injury attorney at Schackow & Mercadante.