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May 27, 2024
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Should More States Legalize Motorcycle Lane Splitting

Should More States Legalize Motorcycle Lane Splitting
Photo: Unsplash.com

Traffic congestion is a growing problem in many parts of the United States. For motorcyclists, navigating slow-moving or stopped traffic can be frustrating and potentially dangerous. Is allowing lane splitting the answer? Should more states legalize this practice? Let’s explore the arguments for and against lane splitting, its safety implications, and the legal considerations for riders.

What is Lane Splitting

Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist rides between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic.  Essentially, the rider maneuvers their motorcycle through the gap created by vehicles in surrounding lanes.

Current Laws and Potential Expansion

Currently, only one state, California, has legalized lane splitting. The Golden State also outlines specific safety guidelines for lane splitting, such as maintaining a speed differential of no more than 10 mph compared to surrounding traffic and avoiding the practice when traffic flow exceeds 30 mph. However, several other states are considering legislation to legalize it, citing potential benefits for both motorcyclists and overall traffic flow. They are:

  • East Coast: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia
  • Midwest: Missouri
  • South: Texas
  • West Coast: Oregon, Washington

The Debate Over Motorcyclist Safety

The safety of lane splitting is a topic with strong opinions on both sides. Proponents argue that it allows motorcyclists to escape the dangers of being rear-ended in slow-moving traffic, which they are particularly vulnerable to. They also note that forcing motorcycles to stay in traffic lanes increases congestion. Letting them funnel through and free up space can potentially improve traffic flow.

Opponents, however, highlight the potential risks involved. Motorcyclists lack the surrounding protection of a car, and lane splitting introduces additional hazards. Unexpected lane changes by drivers, blind spots created by larger vehicles, and dooring incidents (when a driver opens their car door into the path of a motorcycle) all pose significant threats to a rider navigating between lanes.

A Rider’s Rights if They’re Injured in a Motorcycle Accident

Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents often cause severe injuries for the rider, even at low speeds. This vulnerability becomes even more concerning in lane-splitting situations.

Attorney J.J. Dominguez of The Dominguez Firm weighs in on what riders should consider if they’re injured in a motorcycle accident. “In the event of a motorcycle accident while lane splitting, a rider’s rights depend heavily on the specific circumstances and the laws of the state where the accident occurred. If lane splitting is legal, the rider’s ability to seek compensation for injuries hinges on whether they were following established safety guidelines and if the other driver was negligent. In states where lane splitting is illegal, the rider may face challenges in pursuing compensation. This should not, however, deter them from consulting with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to go over their options.”

Prioritizing Safety is Paramount

Regardless of the legal landscape, the safety of motorcyclists should always be the top priority. Riders, whether in states with legalized lane splitting or not, must prioritize safe riding practices. Among them are maintaining a healthy speed differential, being aware of their surroundings, and avoiding aggressive maneuvers.

A Balanced Approach

The debate surrounding lane splitting and whether its legalization should be legalized is likely to continue. While it offers a potential solution for motorcyclists stuck in traffic congestion, a balanced approach that considers safety, education, and infrastructure is crucial. Ultimately, fostering a culture of safe riding practices and responsible driving behavior will benefit everyone sharing the road.

 

Published By: Aize Perez

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