Last year, lane splitting, the practice in which motorcyclists ride between lanes of traffic, was officially made legal in California. While lane splitting has been found to reduce certain types of injuries, motorcycle accidents involving lane splitting continue to occur. For example, a recent fatality occurred on Interstate 5 in Encinitas when a lane splitting cyclist was knocked off their motorcycle by another driver.
Benefits of Lane Splitting
The legalization of lane splitting was intended to help motorcyclists have a safer ride. Lane splitting benefits motorcyclists by:
- Decreasing traffic congestion – When motorcyclists lane split, they move away from cars and trucks, which helps to relieve road congestion.
- Preventing motorcycles from overheating – Many motorcycles do not have radiators, and they rely on air-cooling. The motion from lane splitting helps to keep engines cool so a motorcycle does not overheat.
- Decreasing the risk of some injuries – The American Motorcyclist Association found that during heavy traffic, motorcycle drivers who engaged in lane splitting were less likely to be rear-ended by other drivers. These motorcyclists also had a lower risk of experiencing head and torso injuries.
Avoiding Accidents and Preventing Injury
Motorcyclists can take some measures to protect themselves while lane splitting and decrease their chances of getting into a crash. If you are lane splitting, remember to:
- Monitor your speed – Motorcyclists should be mindful of their speed and the speed of the cars around them to prevent accidents when lane splitting. A cyclist should not try to change lanes when the flow of traffic is moving at 50 miles per hour or more. Also, a motorcyclist should not drive more than 15 miles per hour faster than the vehicles around them.
- Wear a helmet – Motorcyclists who wear helmets are almost 70 percent less likely to suffer brain injuries in a motorcycle accident. They also reduce the odds of dying in a motorcycle crash by nearly 40 percent.
- Drive sober – Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can contribute to accidents and fatalities. In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 27 percent of motorcyclists were intoxicated when they got into a fatal car crash.
Even if a lane splitting cyclist is driving responsibly, they may be injured by the recklessness of another driver, which is why it is important to speak to a lawyer if you are injured in a lane splitting accident.
Legal Representation for Injured Motorcyclists
Motorists have a duty to be vigilant of other vehicles around them, whether that vehicle is a car or another vehicle like a motorcycle. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident involving lane splitting, contact Martinez & Schill, LLP to discuss your options for pursuing compensation. Call 619-512-5995 to schedule a free consultation with one of our San Diego motorcycle accident attorneys.