When on public roads, motorcyclists have the same privileges and obligations as motorists. You, as a motorist, need to keep an eye out for motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders have far higher injury risks than car drivers, despite both groups being required to follow the same traffic laws. So it is okay for a motorcycle to share a lane with a car? Let’s find out.
Lane-sharing or lane-splitting rules vary by state. For instance, it’s legal in California but illegal in some other states. As of 2022, some states have legalized lane splitting. Conversely, some states do not consider lane splitting a legal tactic, but they do not prohibit it.
Even though motorcyclists can travel side by side, most riders stick to a single lane. Therefore, motorcyclists and automobiles are advised to use separate lanes as much as possible. To prevent lane sharing, maintain your blocking position, especially in traffic where other drivers may be tempted to squeeze by.
Lane Splitting vs. Lane Sharing
The act of riding a motorcycle between two lanes of clearly delineated traffic moving in the same direction is known as lane splitting.
Lane splitting, also called white-lining or stripe riding, refers to riding on the line between lanes of traffic. This is referred to as lane sharing when two or more motorcycles travel side-by-side in the same lane and in the same direction. The law of most states does not address lane sharing. But some states do not permit lane splitting.
Tips motorcyclists should keep in mind
- Be careful in heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic.
- Be cautious when preparing to turn at an intersection, entering an exit lane, or leaving the highway.
- Suppose another driver wants to pass you. If you move to the far side of the lane in these situations, you invite the driver to share the lane with you.
- When overtaking a car in your lane, pass in the same manner as if you were driving an automobile.
Lane splitting accidents: Who is at fault?
Because of how close motorcycles approach cars when lanes are split, the limited amount of space that cars have to maneuver, and the fact that some drivers don’t always account for the possibility that a motorcycle may pass them in slowed or stopped traffic, many people believe that lane splitting is risky. However, if the motorcyclist can prove that another motorist also contributed to the crash, the motorcyclist may be able to recover financial damages equal to or greater than those sustained.
Accident investigators and insurance adjusters will likely place blame on the motorcyclist if an accident occurs when the rider is lane-splitting. However, sometimes the fault is not entirely on the rider/biker. It depends on a couple of scenarios, for instance, if:
- The rider of the motorcycle was careful, not speeding, and did not weave between cars or lanes.
- The rider is an expert motorcyclist.
- The motorcyclist has completed a motorcycle safety course.
- The other driver did something more dangerous than lane splitting
Tips for the driver to be safe in case lane splitting happens
- Always be alert and aware of the bikes around you. You should always use your mirrors and turn to glance around before changing lanes or approaching a major thoroughfare to ensure there are no motorcyclists in the area.
- Remember that motorcyclists get easily hidden in the blind zones of other cars because of their small size.
- Don’t get too close to motorcycles.
- Drive with your headlights on
- Avoid sharing a lane with a motorcycle as much as possible.
- Wait until both lanes of bikes or cars have slowed to the same speed before cautiously entering the area where you plan to lane split. If one lane moves faster, cars are more likely to switch lanes and may hit you suddenly.
- When moving through the blind spot of a car, exercise extra caution.
- Drive a little bit faster than the pace of the traffic. Avoid zooming by stationary or slowly moving vehicles.
- Look for signs that a car may change lanes, such as the driver looking into the rearview or side view mirrors.
- Honk if the cars get too close together. Wait until the distance is safe to pass between them.
“Can a motorcycle share a lane with a car? “The answer to this question depends on the particular state and its regulations. States without lane-splitting restrictions
- District of Columbia (Washington, DC)
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
States which prohibit lane splitting
- Massachusetts – Considering Legislation
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- South Carolina
- Virginia – Considering Legislation
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