Are Lane Splitting & Filtering Legal in Fort Walton Beach, FL?

Metropolitan areas are often notorious for their intense traffic congestion and rush-hour gridlock. Even though not every state experiences these issues to the magnitude that those like New York or California do, plenty have cities and towns with their own traffic concerns, and they deal with them in different ways.

These often involve implementing the following measures:

  • Adding (HOV) lanes to high-traffic areas
  • Toll roads
  • Traffic monitoring
  • Adaptive traffic signals
  • Restricted zones

These efforts are not only intended to help alleviate traffic congestion but also to reduce the risk of car accidents

Most notably, some states, such as Florida, are also beginning to look into options like lane splitting and filtering. It’s important, though, that motorcyclists understand what these practices are, as well as the benefits they provide and whether they’re even allowed in Florida in the first place.

What Are Lane Splitting And Filtering?

When traffic volume is high, drivers are often moving too slowly and too close together to switch lanes. However, motorcyclists may be able to safely maneuver between lanes given their vehicles’ smaller statures and the low-risk circumstances of slow-moving cars.

It is a practice known as lane splitting, and different states have distinct laws in place that either allow, restrict, or — most often — leave the choice of engaging in these practices up to the discretion of local law enforcement.

California is the first state with a law that explicitly permits lane splitting, which was passed back in 2016. The state defines lane splitting as the act of driving a motorcycle “between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”

Lane filtering, which is a slightly different riding practice (though sometimes used interchangeably with lane splitting), became legal in Utah in 2019

Defined as “the act of [a motorcycle] overtaking and passing another vehicle that is stopped in the same direction of travel in the same lane,” it generally involves a motorcyclist moving to the front of a line of traffic stopped at an intersection.

Benefits of Lane Splitting and Filtering

There are several potential benefits associated with both lane splitting and filtering. First and foremost, they incentivize the use of motorcycles, which, in turn, can help alleviate traffic congestion during high-volume times like the morning and evening rush hours.

Motorcycle riders can save time and fuel when allowed to split lanes or filter, and continuing to move instead of idling in dense traffic can help keep air-cooled motorcycles from overheating in hot weather conditions. 

Finally, these practices can help to reduce the risk of accidents, particularly for motorcycle riders stuck between cars, who may be at higher risk for injury from rear-end crashes.

Lane Splitting and Filtering in Florida

Even though motorcycle accidents entail a high risk of injury to riders, few states have enacted legislation allowing for lane splitting or filtering. 

Florida, however, is one such state. According to Florida Statute 316.209 Section 2, “The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.” Section 3 further states, “No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”

In other words, lane splitting and filtering are illegal in Fort Walton Beach and throughout the State of Florida.

Follow the Rules of the Road

While you might be tempted to save time and fuel by splitting lanes or filtering, you should never do so in a state where these behaviors are explicitly forbidden by law, as is the case in Florida. Not only will you be risking legal penalties by doing so, but if other drivers aren’t expecting it, you could put yourself and others at higher risk for an accident.

Contact Our Motorcycle Accident Law Firm in Northwest Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Fort Walton Beach motorcycle accident lawyers at Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have two convenient locations in Northwest Florida:

Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Destin Office
4507 Furling Ln Suite 214
Destin, FL 32541
(850) 790-0243

Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Fort Walton Beach Office
975 Mar Walt Dr
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
(850) 863-5297