Lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic that is either slow or stopped. Although lane splitting can be a safe way to ride and can even reduce congestion, it must be done correctly. In this article, we will take a look at how safe lane splitting really is, the pros and cons of lane splitting, and whether it is legal in the state of Ohio.
What is Lane Splitting?
According to the American Motorcyclist Association, lane splitting refers to the practice of riding a motorcycle between marked lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. Because of a motorcycle’s narrow width, it can safely pass between lanes of stopped or slow-moving vehicles where the lanes have adequate width to do so. The area between lanes can also provide an escape route for riders who would otherwise be struck from behind by a distracted, aggressive, or intoxicated driver. Studies have shown that lane splitting can be a safe practice and might even slightly reduce the number of crashes as long as it is done at a safe rate of speed.
Is Lane Splitting Safe?
There has been an ongoing debate for decades as to whether lane splitting is a safe practice. However, a study done by U.C. Berkeley found that motorcyclists who practiced lane splitting were 1.8% less likely to suffer a fatal injury and 2% less likely to be struck by a vehicle from behind. Studies done in Europe, Asia, and Australia also support these numbers. The studies support the idea that lane splitting is safe as long as the motorcyclist is traveling under 50 mph and there is less than a 15 mph difference between the speed of the motorcycle and the other vehicles involved.
Nonetheless, lane splitting carries its own set of hazards, and incidents do happen. This is the juncture where the expertise of an accident attorney becomes invaluable. These legal professionals specialize in standing up for victims who have been hurt in various accidents, lane splitting included. They have an in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of road laws and can help decipher if the accident might have been caused by another party’s negligence. Furthermore, they guide victims through the often labyrinthine legal channels to pursue reimbursement for medical bills, damage to property, and other incurred losses.
The Pros of Lane Splitting
- Lane splitting can get you to your destination much faster when traveling in densely populated areas.
- It can decrease congestion when motorists are slowly moving or at a complete stop.
- It provides a place to go when an oncoming car behind the rider is unable to stop in time and would otherwise strike the motorcycle.
- It can be very safe if done carefully and at a reasonable rate of speed.
- Lane splitting can also help decrease emissions as it lowers the amount of time cars sit in traffic.
The Cons of Lane Splitting
- It can be dangerous if the difference between the motorcyclist’s rate of speed and the other vehicles’ rate of speed is too great.
- Riders are often not visible to drivers who then change lanes into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
- Motorcyclists are at risk of injury when cars make sudden lane changes and/or don’t signal.
- Trucks have a hard time seeing motorcyclists due to the large blind spots on either side and behind their trucks, making it dangerous for the rider.
- Riders can be hurt when traveling near stopped vehicles because they can hit a vehicle’s door when it is suddenly opened by the occupant.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Ohio?
There is no specific Ohio law that bans or condones lane splitting, although the act can be seen as breaking some of the state’s other traffic laws, such as speeding, failing to stay within your lane, or making an unsafe lane change. Lawmakers in Ohio and the majority of other states are split on whether to legalize the practice. In fact, California is the only state to legalize lane splitting, although the practice is legal in Europe and Asia and is actually encouraged in those areas.
The Future of Lane Splitting
Although there is mounting evidence that supports lane splitting, most lawmakers feel the risks still outweigh the benefits. The lack of protection for the rider, along with the prevalence of negligent drivers and motorcyclists, helps to continue the lack of support for lane splitting in Ohio and other states.
Ohio Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one was involved in a motorcycle accident while lane splitting or under any other circumstance, working with a lawyer can help. Being injured in a crash can be frightening, frustrating, and overwhelming. But it is important to know that you have rights. Hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer in Ohio can not only help you get the medical attention you need but also the financial compensation – and justice – you deserve.