Lane splitting (also known as white-lining and stripe riding) refers to riding a motorcycle between two lanes of stopped or slowed traffic. In January 2017, California became the first state in the nation to allow lane splitting for motorcycles. The move is forcing other states to re-examine their existing policies. If you have been injured in a motorcycle injury accident, contact The Jeffcoat Firm today.
Currently, lane splitting is prohibited in South Carolina. Our lawmakers have deemed it to be too dangerous to allow on our roads. However, some studies suggest that lane splitting could actually be safer for motorcyclists and, in some cases, it should even be encouraged.
What Is Lane Splitting?
A motorcycle rider engages in lane splitting when he or she rides in the median space between two vehicles. Riders often perform this maneuver in stalled or slow-moving traffic since the narrower motorcycle can more easily maneuver between vehicles and continue down the road. South Carolina bans the practice under S.C. Code § 56-5-3640.
It is important to note that lane splitting is not the same as lane sharing when motorcycles ride side by side in the same lane. The difference is important. South Carolina actually permits motorcyclists to ride two abreast in a single lane. However, because motorcyclists are entitled to the full width of a lane, motor vehicle drivers cannot share the lane with them.
Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?
Many people believe that lane splitting is dangerous. After all, other drivers may be surprised when motorcyclists appear suddenly beside their vehicles. But several studies have reached a different conclusion.
The Los Angeles Times reports that a University of California Berkeley study found that lane splitting is “no more dangerous than riding a motorcycle in a marked lane.” However, the researchers’ conclusion came with a caveat: Lane splitting could become dangerous if a motorcyclist rode at an unreasonably fast speed. For instance, the study found that lane-splitters going at speeds of 10 mph faster than the traffic they were passing faced a higher risk of getting into a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), through research studies with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, said in a statement on lane use that a motorcycle’s narrow width can allow it to pass between lanes of cars where the lanes are wide enough to offer an adequate gap, and it also provides an escape route for motorcyclists who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind. The NHTSA said there is evidence that lane splitting on multiple-lane roads slightly reduces crash frequency compared with staying within the lane and moving with other traffic.
Ultimately, the NHTSA stated, “all motorcyclists should be aware of the value of lane positioning to maximize their visibility to other motorists and better manage traffic situations. “The agency said it would like to have additional research to provide information about the safety or dangers of lane splitting.
How Can an Attorney Help You After a Lane Splitting Accident?
Motorcyclists who are injured in South Carolina after they were lane splitting can face several immediate challenges. One of the first issues is that a police officer responding to the incident could issue a citation for lane splitting. The insurance company for the motor vehicle driver will invariably try to use this citation to justify refusing to provide any compensation.
South Carolina is a modified comparative fault state when it comes to negligence claims. In other words, a person is allowed to recover damages from a defendant so long as he or she was less than 50 percent at fault for his or her injuries. This rule often becomes an issue in lane splitting crashes.
If you were lane splitting at the time of the accident, your behavior does not necessarily bar you from recovering compensation for your injuries. An attorney could help you to establish your case and pursue fair compensation for the damages that you have incurred. If you were less than 50 percent at fault, you could still recover damages. However, your damages would be reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to you.
Many insurance companies will want to use lane splitting against a motorcycle accident victim. You should avoid speaking to any insurer until you have legal representation. A claims adjuster may ask you to provide a recorded statement. You should always politely decline since the goal of the insurer’s statement request will be to get you to say something that damages your claim.
As soon as you hire a personal injury attorney from The Jeffcoat Firm, we will conduct an independent investigation of your accident. We will know how to counter any unsupported claims that your lane splitting caused your injuries. We will focus on the negligent acts of the other driver.
One of the most common kinds of lane splitting accidents involves drivers who change lanes suddenly and without signaling. Such motorists do not check their blind spots before making a maneuver in traffic, and they may strike lane splitting riders. If this has happened to you, then you may be due for compensation for the harm you have suffered.
Get Help from Our South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Today
The Jeffcoat Firm takes pride in providing experienced legal counsel to all of our clients. We understand the stress and confusion people feel after motorcycle accidents, especially those which involve lane splitting. We also know that motorcycle accident victims are often made out to be the parties at fault when the truth is far different. We review all evidence and help injured motorcyclists to pursue the justice they deserve.
The Jeffcoat Firm can handle all of your necessary paperwork, filings and court appearances on your behalf. So, you will not have to sweat any deadlines. Most importantly, we can immediately begin negotiating with the insurance company (or companies) for a fair and full settlement of your case. We will not be afraid to file a lawsuit and, if necessary, try your case in front of a jury if an insurer refuses to offer just compensation.
Did you suffer catastrophic injuries, or was your loved one killed in a lane splitting motorcycle wreck in South Carolina? Contact The Jeffcoat Firm as soon as possible. Our initial consultations are always free and carry no obligations.