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Lane Splitting Increases Motorcycle Rider Safety

By Evan L. Kaine

Motorcyclists and lawmakers can have a difficult time agreeing on what should be legal and what should remain illegal. In 2014, a man lost his life in Georgia for what riders term “lane splitting.” Although the gentleman lost his life, many riders are adamant that the maneuver will save more lives than harm.

Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides their bike on the roadway lanes lines, separating the different lanes of travel, in between cars and other motorists. Many countries allow this method of riding to reduce traffic and injuries, but also increase safety. U.S. lawmakers generally don’t agree with this global stance as they have yet to legalize this type of riding. However, a study done by the University of California – Berkeley found that lane splitting can be safe if it’s performed properly. The group released the following information:

  1. Lane-splitting can be safe if done in traffic moving at 50 mph or less. Additionally, motorcyclists cannot exceed the speed of other vehicles by more than 15 mph.
  2. During the maneuver of lane splitting, 69% of motorcyclists who were exceeding the traffic speed by 15 mph or less were not associated with changes in the number of injuries.
  3. When comparing riders who were not lane splitting to those who were – lane splitting riders were less likely to suffer head injuries, torso injuries or fatal injuries.
  4. Lane splitters were significantly less likely to be rear-ended than those riders who do not lane split (2.6% vs. 4.6%)
  5. Lane splitting motorcyclists were more likely to be wearing a full face helmet than any other rider.
  6. Lane splitting riders were less likely to drive after drinking alcohol.

The Vice-President for the American Motorcycle Association said, “Perhaps one of the most dangerous situations for any motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators, and environmental conditions increase the risk of physical contact with another vehicle or hazard.”

No matter your opinion, it is crucial for motorcyclists and drivers to share the road. With traffic fatalities sky-rocketing (in both cars and motorcycles), the focus should be on safety. To those who want lane-splitting legalized in the United States – contact your local state representatives. In the meantime, drive and ride safely!

For more information on lane splitting and this article, contact Kaine Law.


Published November 03, 2016


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