A lane splitting causes a motorcycle accident because drivers are not looking for motorcycles that are traveling between designated lanes. Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of traffic, often between vehicles, to try to move through slow traffic. Because motorcyclists may not be noticed in this location, this action can result in a crash.
Several states do not have specific rules prohibiting lane splitting. However, in the state of Georgia, lane splitting is not legal. According to O.C.G.A. §40-6-312, motorcycles must follow multiple rules while on the state’s roads, including:
- Using a full lane to pass other vehicles
- No driving a motorcycle between lanes of traffic
- No motorcycles traveling more than two abreast in a single lane
Additionally, according to the statute, a motorcycle operator is entitled to his or her entire lane. A motor vehicle driver cannot occupy part of the motorcyclist’s lane. If an accident occurs in this manner, where the motor vehicle driver was crowding the motorcyclist’s lane, the driver could be found liable in an accident.
Dangers of Lane Splitting
On a typical multi-lane road, space between lanes is minimal. There is enough space for vehicles to travel safely adjacent to each other, but the lanes are not wide enough that drivers can drift out of their lanes in heavy traffic, nor are they wide enough for motorcycle drivers to try to drive safely on the lane lines, traveling between rows of traffic.
When a motorcyclist tries to squeeze between the lanes of cars, there are many possible accident scenarios. He or she could clip a side mirror, resulting in a loss of control. The motorcyclist could then hit other cars, potentially creating a crash involving multiple vehicles.
Lane Splitting in Moving Traffic
Should the lane splitting occur while traffic is moving at normal speeds, the danger becomes even greater to everyone on the road for a number of reasons, including:
- Unseen motorcyclist: Drivers are not necessarily looking for a motorcyclist to be traveling between lanes of traffic. When the driver attempts to make a lane change, he or she may not see the motorcyclist until the last second, causing the driver to swerve into other cars and potentially creating a multi-car accident.
- Sudden braking: A driver who suddenly spots the motorcyclist splitting lanes may instinctively slam on his or her brakes, causing a rear-end accident.
During an accident caused by a lane splitting, the motorcyclist could end up with severe injuries. Thousands of motorcyclists are injured in crashes every year, and nearly 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2018 in accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
However, drivers and passengers of other motor vehicles can also suffer injuries when a motorcyclist who is lane splitting causes a crash. Even if the motorcycle operator suffers an injury, any other person who is injured in this type of crash has the right to seek compensation from the insurance company representing the driver who is found at fault.
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Common Causes of Lane Splitting
There are a number of reasons why a motorcyclist may undertake the dangerous move of splitting lanes:
- Running late: A motorcyclist who is late for work and stuck in slow traffic may try to weave between cars to move along faster.
- Frustration: A motorcycle operator who is frustrated by a traffic jam may move through rows of traffic to try to avoid having to wait for cars to clear, increasing the chances of a traffic crash.
- Alcohol or drug impairment: A motorcyclist who drinks alcohol or takes drugs before climbing on the motorcycle will have a reduced level of judgment, which could result in the motorcyclist choosing to take the dangerous action of moving between lanes of traffic.
- Inexperience: An inexperienced motorcyclist may believe he or she has the skill required to squeeze between vehicles. However, the motorcyclist may still lose control of the bike in this narrow traveling area, causing a serious accident with other cars.
Seeking Compensation After an Accident
Lane splitting causes motorcycle accidents because drivers are not looking for motorcyclists in this area of the roadway. In the state of Georgia, lane splitting is illegal. If a motorcyclist was executing this maneuver and caused the crash, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. An Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney can help you build a strong case against the at-fault party.
On the other hand, if a motorcyclist suffered injuries in a crash where the driver was crowding the motorcyclist’s lane, this could be a sign of negligence on the part of the driver. The driver could accuse the motorcyclist of lane splitting, however. As the motorcyclist, if you did nothing wrong to cause the accident, a personal injury attorney may be able to help prove your side of the case.
At Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, we can work through the facts in the case to determine exactly who was at fault. We will evaluate what kinds of compensation you could be eligible to seek and may pursue a settlement on your behalf. For a free case review, call us at (404) 888-8888 today.