Have you ever been sitting in your vehicle in standstill traffic, and all of a sudden, a motorcycle zoomed past you? They couldn’t have passed you in a lane because the other stopped cars all around you filled them. Instead, they were driving on the dotted lines and passed you in between the lanes. This is called road splitting or lane splitting. Even though it is legal in California and other parts of the world, road splitting is illegal in all the other states and is a dangerous practice that can cause serious accidents for motorcyclists and vehicle drivers alike.
Why Is It so Dangerous?
According to Consumer Reports, about half of motorcyclists surveyed in a study said they nearly hit a vehicle while lane splitting. It’s not very surprising because lanes are tight as is when cars ride next to each other, not to mention when a motorcycle is in between the cars. Here’s what makes road splitting so dangerous:
- Distance is reduced between vehicles. When a motorcyclist is passing between two vehicles, there is limited space. One wrong move and the rider could hit a car, or a car could easily drift into the rider since they are so close to each other.
- Motorcyclists are less visible to other drivers. Since a motorcycle rider who is lane splitting might end up in a driver’s blind spot, it makes changing lanes for the driver more dangerous.
- Collisions are harder to avoid. With any vehicle, higher speeds lead to less control. This increases accidents. If a motorcycle is lane splitting, they are going faster than traffic, and any wrong movement by a motorcyclist or vehicle could be deadly.
The Controversy Surrounding Road Splitting
Road splitting is still a controversial topic in the other 49 states, including our own state of Mississippi. Many motorcyclists advocate to have this legal in more states, but it’s not as safe as people might think. Most motorcyclists claim to only road split when traffic is either at a standstill or stop and go. In theory, this eases the tension of traffic by reducing the amount of people on the road and gets motorcyclists out of the way of vehicles. But once a motorcyclist moves faster than 10 miles per hour more than surrounding cars while lane splitting, things can get dangerous very quickly.
The leading argument for allowing road splitting claims that it reduces rear-end fatalities of motorcyclists, which are caused when a car stops abruptly, and the motorcyclists collides with the car in front of them. Even if it may reduce rear-ending, motorcycles being in between cars increases crash risk nearly four times over, according to a study done in France, where lane splitting is legal.
Another problem is that there is already an underlying tension between drivers and riders. If road splitting becomes standard practice, this might intensify the tension. If road splitting were to become legal in other states, drivers of vehicles might feel that it is unfair because motorcyclists would not have to uphold the same rules of the road as them.
If you’ve been in an accident with a motorcyclist in Mississippi, whether you’re another motorcyclist, a pedestrian, or a driver, you might need legal help from our motorcycle accident lawyer. At Pittman Roberts & Welsh, we know how complex a motorcycle accident can be. Contact us today and we can help you sort through the details of your case.