How Dangerous Is Motorcycle Lane Splitting?

When you’re driving, you may have witnessed a motorcyclist riding between you and the vehicle next to you as you’re at a red light or in slow traffic. It can be frustrating to ride a motorcycle in slow traffic, and the biker may be tempted to split lanes. However, this practice could be dangerous, if not fatal.

Splitting lanes can be a safe way to navigate stop-and-go traffic, depending on how it is executed. However, it is still not an ideal way to ride a motorcycle. In addition, the safety of lane splitting is not contingent upon its legality, and the action is considered legal in some states.

Go Transcript

You should know some important things about motorcycle lane splitting to avoid serious accidents.

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting, also called white lining or stripe-riding, can happen when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of slow or stalled traffic while traveling in the same direction as the cars.

Motorcyclists may split lanes to get around traffic and make their trip time shorter or protect themselves from rear-end collisions. In congested traffic, it may be more prudent for cyclists to be between two vehicles moving slowly or completely stopped than to be behind one stopped automobile.

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A study by the University of California Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center revealed that riders who split lanes were much less likely to be rear-ended than those who don’t. So under some (very specific) circumstances, lane splitting might be safe, but riders should take this information with a grain of salt.

A rear-end accident could be life-threatening and extremely serious. For this reason, lane splitting may be safer for motorcycle riders who are stuck in traffic. However, some cyclists practice lane splitting when traffic is moving at a normal speed which can frighten other drivers and lead to accidents.

Lane Splitting vs. Lane Sharing

Lane sharing can occur when two people who are both on motorcycles are riding next to each other. For example, in Pennsylvania, two motorcycles are permitted to ride side by side in the same lane. Riding like this is safer since each cyclist rides in a designated lane and not alongside traffic.

Is Lane Splitting Legal?

Lane splitting is illegal in 31 states, including Pennsylvania. In addition, twelve states are in “limbo” regarding lane splitting and don’t consider the practice legal or illegal. As of 2021, white-lining is legal in Utah, Montana, and California.

White-lining is illegal in most states because it creates unsafe driving conditions. However, riding a motorcycle already comes with its own share of safety risks, and lane splitting could make the roads unsafe for motorcyclists and other drivers.

Who Is Responsible for a Lane Splitting Accident?

If you split lanes while driving in Pennsylvania, you could be held responsible if this causes an accident. In addition, you will likely be completely liable if traffic is going 30 mph or faster or if evidence proves that you exhibited reckless behavior while lane-splitting.

However, drivers who exhibit behaviors more illegal or dangerous than white-lining could still face partial liability in the accident. For example, if you are the victim in an accident where the driver was drunk or otherwise distracted, or if someone changed lanes without signaling and collided with your vehicle, you could still receive damages. Your financial award will likely come from the insurance provider of the driver at fault.

A Pittsburgh motorcycle accident lawyer will fight for your case to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Once you go over the evidence about the motorcycle accident, such as police reports and medical records, with your attorney, they will advise you on how to move forward with your case. You also have legal representation when negotiating your settlement with the insurance company so that you won’t receive less than what you’re entitled to.

It’s best to have experienced legal representation on your side when you settle your personal injury case so you won’t be low-balled by the opposing attorneys. Therefore, you should seek a consultation with a qualified Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the crash.

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