Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes “splitting” between slow or stopped vehicles. Lane splitting can occur while cars are motor vehicles are riding with traffic or while motor vehicles are at a complete stop. By nature, a motorcycle’s narrow width and agility may allow it to easily and swiftly pass between stopped or slowed vehicles, helping ease traffic. Under Connecticut law, motorcycles share the same rights as other motor vehicles on the road, including the single use of a traffic lane. Your state laws determine who is at-fault in a motorcycle accident involving lane splitting.
It is currently against Connecticut law to lane split when operating a motorcycle, but this soon may be changing. Discover what new laws may come into play when it comes to motorcycle lane changing and why it is being reconsidered.
The controversy regarding motorcycle lane splitting
Legalizing motorcycle lane splitting has been a highly debated topic in many states, including Connecticut. Proponents of lane splitting say that legally allowing motorcycle operators to split and share lanes with other vehicles on the road decreases traffic congestion and increases their safety by helping them avoid being rear-ended. On the other side, opponents believe lane splitting is dangerous for motorcycles and other motor vehicles on the road and can lead to more accidents between motorcyclists and vehicles that are quickly changing lanes and not easily visible.
Studies on motorcycle lane splitting demonstrate that lane splitting can be safe when executed properly, when motorcycles change lanes at speeds of 50 MPH or less and riding within 15 MPH of other vehicles on the road. Studies also note that lane splitting on interstate highways can slightly reduce the occurrence of car crashes when compared to staying within the lane and moving with traffic.
However, the safety of lane splitting decreases if the motorcyclist is speeding while lane splitting. Remember, the faster a vehicle passes means the less time you have to react to an unpredicted situation. Another car may not have enough time or visibility to see you in time if you are approaching too quickly.
Whether you are a proponent or opponent of the legalization of lane splitting in Connecticut, it is critical to understand the law, especially if you are a motorcycle operator.
Where Connecticut motorcycle lane splitting laws stand
Connecticut is one of six states that are reconsidering legalizing motorcycle lane splitting. California is the only state that has legalized lane splitting. Senator Cathy Osten introduced Senate Bill 629 which would allow motorcyclists to legally lane split with the goal being to ease traffic in heavily congested areas.
As of now, legal changes to motorcycle lane splitting in Connecticut are in limbo, as Senate Bill 629 has not been passed. If this bill passes, it will make Connecticut the second state in the U.S. to legalize lane splitting. Bill 629 has been assigned to the state’s transportation committee for additional deliberation.
Accidents due to lane splitting
It is easy to imagine how a motor vehicle accident can happen due to lane splitting. Factors such as motorcycles changing lanes in a blind spot, proximity of cars and motorcycles and quick lane changes, can all contribute to an accident.
Motorcycle lane splitting can result in many types of collisions, but most commonly result in a side-swipe between vehicles. If the other motor vehicle does not see the motorcyclist and begins to change lanes without checking their blind spots, a motorcyclist can get sideswiped. In addition, if a motorcycle rider makes a quick lane change and the other vehicle fails to notice until it’s too late, they may need to make a hasty maneuver that results in a collision.
We are here to help. A motorcycle accident can cause major property damage, critical injury and loss in productivity or ability to work. As with most areas of the law, the best thing for you and your family to do is be informed and knowledgeable about the steps to take in the unfortunate event that you’re in an accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a motorcycle accident, contact Robert L. Cavanaugh, Connecticut Personal Injury Attorney with more than 25 years of expertise, by clicking below or calling (203) 259-5400.