Lane splitting is a common motorcycle maneuver practiced throughout the world. It is sometimes called lane filtering, though the definitions may vary from state to state. Some call lane splitting the act of navigating between vehicles running at regular speed. Others call it lane filtering when the motorcycle navigates between slow-moving or almost-stopped vehicles.
Ultimately, lane splitting or lane filtering boils down to just about cruising between two vehicles on the road. With the thin line of determining speed levels, it is the act where a motorcycle moves forward instead of staying sandwiched on the road.
The Dangers of Lane Splitting
Speed plays a big factor in determining the risk of lane splitting. Once the rider starts to lane split faster than 10MPH, that is when the risk increases. A motorcycle safety instructor once said that, if you go 30MPH, you have already passed two cars after hitting the brakes. Considering the risk, he implied that such action will likely result in a wreck than at any other moment.
Using the space between two running vehicles can be very tricky. Depending on how the adjacent cars see the motorcycle, a rear-end accident may occur. When riders lane-split, the damages can range from minor to severe injuries. You are lucky if you just struck a side mirror. More likely than not, you may be thrown right in front of or behind another moving vehicle. Since motorcycles often pass along the blind spots of cars and trucks, it can compromise the rider’s safety.
Lane splitting can be done safely when the rider navigates between rows of slow-moving vehicles. Given the limited space, the motorcycle must pass through without breaking side mirrors along the way. Never try to filter in bad weather and when there is limited visibility. Chances are, other vehicles might not also notice you. At all times, you must be fully aware of your surroundings when splitting lanes.
Amendment of the Lane Splitting Law
Arizona banned lane splitting for years. Here, you cannot share a lane with other vehicles on the road. Only peace officers can overtake vehicles during their official duties. Simply put, squeezing your motorcycle between traffic is illegal. Hence, if you did maneuver and got hit, it will be your fault. Whether you were injured or not, your lane splitting act that results in a motorcycle accident puts the blame on you.
At the time of this writing, however, changes in the Arizona legislature may have already taken effect. Proponents of the change aimed to make the roads safer for those who need to filter through lanes. Known as Senate Bill 1273, it now provides opportunities for motorcycle riders to have safe passage and exits. Sections 28-729 and 28-903 of the Arizona Revised Statutes now have these amendments:
- The operator of a two-wheeled motorcycle may overtake and pass another vehicle that is stopped in the same direction of travel and in the same lane.
- Movement between lanes of traffic may be made safely if the street is: (a) divided into at least two adjacent traffic lanes in the same direction of travel; (b) has a speed limit that does not exceed forty-five miles per hour.
- A motorcycle travels at a speed that does not exceed fifteen miles per hour.
Therefore, lane splitting is now legal under the new Arizona law. However, doing this maneuver comes with responsibility. It still does not allow motorcycle riders to snake through traffic. By following speed limits, the new law will help prevent fatal rear-end collisions.
How it Affects Motorcycle Injury Claims
Before the law takes full effect, you may share fault if your lane splitting caused the accident. This may reduce the amount of compensation that will be awarded in your favor. But still, lane splitting alone should not hinder you from suing the other party for damages.
However, if your accident happens after the enactment of the new law, things may change:
- Other vehicles must now expect that motorcycles may filter during slow traffic movement.
- In a rear-end collision, it is no longer your fault if you split lanes within the speed limit.
- You may now have a stronger case against the negligent driver who sideswiped you while you were lane-splitting.
So, you see, lane splitting being made legal does have its consequences. Others may see it to escape gridlock without paying attention to speed limits and lane restrictions. When done responsibly, it can help ease congestion and allow safe passage for motorcycles. The amendment to the law aims to help riders avoid being rear-ended, thereby reducing fatalities on the road.
Have you been injured in a motorcycle accident that involved lane splitting? If you were driving below 15 miles per hour, and only overtook a stopped vehicle, then you have a right to file a claim. Our motorcycle accident lawyers are ready to help you. Call us now so we can review your case.