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motorcyclist riding a slight curve

Is Lane-Splitting Safe?

Lane-splitting, when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of stopped or slower-moving cars, is a controversial topic. Some argue that it is a dangerous practice that puts riders at risk, while others claim it is a safer and more efficient way for motorcyclists to navigate traffic. While legal only in California, many motorcycle riders nationwide continue to practice this maneuver.

Pros of Lane-Splitting

When most people think of lane-splitting, they picture a motorcyclist weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds. And while it is true that lane-splitting can be dangerous if not done carefully, there are also many benefits to this practice.

According to a study done by the University of California, Berkeley, injuries sustained by lane-splitting motorcyclists (LSM) were notably less severe than those of motorcyclists who did not lane-split:

  • Head Injuries - 9 percent of LSM suffered head injuries compared to 17 percent.
  • Body Injuries - 19 percent of LSM experienced torso injuries compared to 29 percent.
  • Fatalities - 1.2 percent of LSM died in accidents compared to 3 percent.

Lane-splitting motorcyclists were also less likely to be rear-ended by another motorist compared to non-lane-splitting motorcycle riders (2.6 percent compared to 4.6 percent).

Potential Dangers

While one of the primary purposes for lane-splitting is for motorcyclists to avoid being rear-ended, the same Berkeley study noted that LSM were more likely to cause rear-end collisions. 38 percent of motorcyclists rear-ended another vehicle while in the process of lane-splitting compared to the 16 percent of non-lane-splitting motorcyclists.

Opponents of lane-splitting argue that motorcyclists are already 29 times more likely to die in an accident than passenger car drivers and that lane-splitting only increases the risk. Potential dangers used to advocate against lane-splitting are:

  • Door Openings - Motorcyclists need to be wary of swinging doors, especially when lane-splitting nearby stopped vehicles.
  • Sudden Lane Changes - Motorcyclists are already at a disadvantage when it comes to being adequately visible due to the size of the motorcycle. An unaware driver could easily change lanes if the motorcyclist were to be in a blind spot.
  • Big-Rig Visibility - Not only are motorcyclists more likely to be caught in a truck's blind spot, but they also have less visibility due to the truck's length. As a motorcyclist rides the length of a truck, a car could easily cut across lanes of traffic in front of it, causing an accident.

Lane-Splitting Laws

While there are proven statistics that show lane-splitting to be a safer way for motorcyclists to travel, the cons and critics of lane-splitting currently outweigh the benefits. Due to driver negligence (even unsafe motorcyclists themselves) and the inherent risks, most states still consider lane-splitting illegal.

Savannah Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

When you or a loved one are involved in a motorcycle accident, it can be a confusing and overwhelming time. It is important to know that you have rights and may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The motorcycle accident attorneys at Tate Law Group, LLC have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate the legal process and fight for the best possible outcome.

Call us today at (912) 333-3915 or fill out our form online for a free initial consultation!

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