Riding a motorcycle is dangerous enough on its own, but then there are certain behaviors that riders might engage in that make it even riskier if they’re not experienced.
One example is lane splitting. Lane splitting is also known as stripe-riding and white-lining.
So what exactly is lane splitting?
It’s a practice where motorcyclists will make their way through slow traffic by riding in the space between vehicles. When you’re lane splitting on a motorcycle, you’re moving in the same direction as the cars around you.
It’s not the same as lane sharing. Lane sharing refers to a scenario where motorcycle riders are side-by-side in a single lane of travel.
Lane splitting is also not the same as lane filtering. That means driving in the space between two vehicles in adjacent lanes, but only when the cars are stopped. This might, for example, happen at a traffic light.
The following are eight critical things to know about the practice of lane splitting and its potential risks.
1. Lane Splitting vs. Filtering
First, while this was briefly touched on, to go into a bit more detail about lane splitting and filtering, you should know the following:
- Lane filtering is when a motorcycle is making its way through stopped or slow traffic.
- Lane splitting means riding between rows of vehicles in the same lane. This can include in divided and undivided roadways, highways, and streets.
- It takes expertise and skill to do lane splitting and filtering.
- Lane splitting is a way to avoid getting rear-ended if you’re on a motorcycle.
2. Lane Splitting Is Sometimes Legal
Lane splitting is legal in some states, but in other states, it might not be explicitly defined as illegal. In these situations, then the legality and whether or not to ticket a driver is based on the individual circumstances.
In Utah, there’s a modified version of lane splitting that’s legalized. In states like Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, and North Carolina, lane splitting isn’t mentioned and therefore isn’t specifically prohibited.
3. Lane Splitting Can Be Done For Safety
According to guidelines from motorcycle safety programs, a motorcycle shouldn’t travel any faster than 10 mph faster than the traffic it’s passing. If traffic is moving at 30 mph or more, then lane splitting shouldn’t be attempted.
The faster you’re going when you’re passing, the less time you have to react.
The idea of lane splitting is that a rider is reducing the potential for rear-end collisions. It also takes motorcycles out of the traffic lanes, so it can help reduce congestion.
The safest lanes to split are the ones that are furthest to the left. Splitting the lanes furtherst to the right can be most dangerous because of on-ramps and exits.
When you’re splitting the lanes to the far left, it’s helping you avoid big trucks, and you should be able to see over the top of the other vehicles pretty clearly so you have an idea of what’s ahead.
4. Rely on the 4 Rs
With the topic of lane splitting, there are four Rs to keep in mind:
- Be Reasonable—this refers to being responsible with your speed and making sure that you aren’t going into turns too fast.
- Be Responsible—You’re responsible for your safety and, in some ways, the safety of those around you.
- Be Respectful—You should acknowledge when someone gives you the room you need for lane splitting. Even though you might be able to lane split legally, that doesn’t mean someone has to give you space.
- Beware of Roadways—Be thinking about uneven surfaces, drivers who aren’t paying attention, and other factors like the weather when you’re in heavy traffic and riding a motorcycle.
5. There Are Some Things NOT To Do When Lane Splitting
When you’re lane splitting, don’t do anything that’s going to cause drivers to overreact. That means riding by too fast. Then someone’s just going to see a flash in their periphery, which can make a dangerous situation for you.
You should be fully alert when you’re going to ride between traffic, and you should be especially careful if the conditions are wet. If you’re riding on painted lines, they’re going to have reduced grip when they’re wet.
Don’t share lanes if it’s dark because drivers might think you’re in a four-wheel vehicle instead of being on a motorcycle.
6. There Are Also Things You SHOULD Do When Lane Splitting
When you’re lane splitting, stay in a gear that’s low so that you’re not causing other drivers to swerve. You should also, again, be cautious of any lumpy or uneven surfaces.
7. Lane Splitting Can Lead to Road Rage
One of the potential issues that can arise with lane splitting and make it more dangerous is road rage.
A driver may think that if you’re lane splitting, it’s putting them at risk. As has been briefly mentioned, if you’re going past a car, a driver may also feel like they need to swerve to avoid hitting you, leading to an overcorrection.
While the possibility of road rage or upsetting another driver isn’t your only concern when you’re on a motorcycle, it is one that you need to weigh.
8. What If You’re Injured?
If you’re injured while lane splitting, you may still be able to seek compensation, although the specifics depend on the situation and your state.
Lane splitting may affect how much compensation you’re eligible to recover based on how the laws in your state view the practice.
You would have to prove liability, but there is sometimes the problem that arises in the legal and insurance worlds where the idea is motorcycles are always at fault.
You need to talk to an attorney more than likely because people aren’t familiar with the studies that show lane splitting has safety benefits.
Despite the benefits, it remains a controversial practice. If you’re on a motorcycle, you shouldn’t attempt it if you aren’t experienced or comfortable doing so.