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Is Lane Splitting Really as Dangerous as They Say?

It’s a commonly held belief that one of the most dangerous things a motorcyclist can do on the road is split lanes, or dart in between cars to avoid traffic. This would seem to be true, being that 49 U.S. states have outlawed the practice; but what about that 50th state?

California is the only state in the United States with no mention of lane-splitting in its traffic laws. There were “guidelines” printed in the California Highway Patrol’s website and literature, as well as the website and literature of the California Department of Motor Vehicles; however, those guidelines were removed. This step was taken after a Sacramento man complained that the prominent placement of the “guidelines” made it seem as though they were enforceable.

This decision has created a firestorm around the topic. Motorists complain that the lack of guidelines creates even more confusion about the practice for both bikers and drivers of four-wheeled vehicles. In addition, there seems to be an argument about the dangerousness of the practice.

From a four-wheel vehicle driver’s standpoint, when you’re stuck in traffic, it may seem somewhat dangerous for a biker to come zooming by the side of your car, zipping in and out of stopped traffic. This is because bikers often get lost in blind spots and then seemingly pop out of nowhere, startling drivers.

If you’re a motorcyclist, you may have a completely different view of lane-splitting. If you’re in a traffic-filled area, like California, New York City and parts of New Jersey, bikers can argue that lane-splitting not only saves time, valuable fuel and offers relief from heat exposure, but it also might actually prevent more accidents than it causes. Many bikers contend that sitting in stop-and-go traffic is more likely to lead to an accident than safely lane-changing, thereby de-congesting the roads.

There is no data that links lane-splitting to a higher rate of accidents or fatalities. Road hazards, such as potholes or inclement weather, along with unnecessary speeding, are more likely causes of accidents.

For over 25 years, Andrew Prince, Esq. has been representing NJ motorcycle riders who have been injured in accidents. If you or someone you know deserves to be compensated for their injuries sustained in an accident, contact  Mr. Prince today for a free consultation about the case.