Motorcycles in the Eyes of the Law: Is Lane Splitting Legal?

Riding a motorcycle is something that gives many people great pleasure. However, a person on a bike is more vulnerable in an accident than those who are in larger vehicles, but the two must share the road. Today, people across the nation are lobbying for legal lane splitting, as they believe this will help to minimize traffic delays while cutting down on commute times.

What is Lane Splitting?

When a motorcyclist shares or splits a lane with another vehicle during slow or stopped traffic this is referred to as lane splitting. The motorcycle rides over the dashed lines in the lane and passes between vehicles that are moving at a slower rate of speed. Basically, the rider is permitted to drive in the lanes between the larger vehicles. However, most states prohibit this practice and one should visit today to learn why this is the case.

The Legality of Lane Splitting

Motorcyclists need to know if they are in violation of the law before riding in this manner. However, there is a lot of gray area when it comes to the legality of lane splitting and the answer to whether this activity is legal depends on the state in question. At this time, only California allows for lane splitting. Numerous states have declared this activity to be illegal, but many states fail to provide guidance either way. For example, Texas and Montana don’t say whether lane splitting is allowed or prohibited. Riders need to know this information before going out on the open road.

How Lane Splitting Would Be of Benefit on the Road

Traffic congestion can bring about accidents. People become less aware of what is going on around them when they are moving slowly, especially when sitting in traffic for long periods of time. By allowing lane splitting, states may find they ease the congestion and help protect those on the road.

However, many people believe the exact opposite is true. Drivers sitting in traffic will still find it hard to see motorcycles and more accidents may occur. In addition, any accident that does occur as a result of lane splitting is likely to be more serious than an accident that involves larger vehicles.

Increased Safety

What many fail to consider when discussing lane splitting is the safety of the rider. A study conducted by Berkeley researchers at the University of California found that lane splitting actually makes motorcycles safer. Thanks to the narrow width of the bike, the rider can easily move between vehicles that are moving slowly or are completely stopped. This provides the biker with an escape route in the event of an emergency. If lane splitting is not permitted, the biker may find that he or she becomes trapped or may be hit from behind by another driver. Lane splitting helps to reduce the chances of this happening and increase the safety of those who ride a bike.

Regardless of the law, riders need to be responsible at all times and remain respectful of other drivers. If there is any question as to whether lane splitting is permitted, assume the answer is no. Those who do so find they remain in compliance with the law and can enjoy their bike without fear of legal difficulties. As motorcycles are typically ridden for pleasure, anything that makes the ride easier is appreciated, and lane splitting falls into this category.

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