The Legal Hazards of Lane-Splitting by Motorcycle Riders
A total of 4,381 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2013 -- over 30 times the number in cars. One cause is lane-splitting, where a motorcycle rider drives in the space between two lanes of traffic.
In today’s video, Steven Sweat, a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, explains the legal hazards of lane-splitting with Editor in Chief Larry Bodine.
Many states ban the practice outright, but California is an anomaly – the practice is not forbidden. Lane-splitting can be done safely at a slow rate of speed, but Sweat says a rider must be very careful.
When a motorcyclist splits lanes at more than 30 miles per hour and gets hit by a car, the law will compare who is more at fault. Both the motor vehicle operator and the rider share the responsibility to avoid an accident.
The principal problem is the lack of visibility of motorcycles. Scientific studies show the people perceive smaller objects to be farther away than a person thinks, according to Sweat. Also, drivers are expecting to see two headlights and not one, and are watching for something as wide as a car. In a lane splitting scenario, this creates a hazard.