Riding a motorcycle can be both a fun and safe experience for those who choose to do so in the Phoenix area as the laws of the state enable bikers to ride while providing them with numerous protections. These operators are imbued with the ability to ride the roads the same as motorists are able to drive and both groups - bikers and drivers - can use the same roads in a safe manner without the rights of either being ignored. In the minds of many, one of the great things about motorcycles is that they are smaller and more maneuverable than a typical passenger car. This means that a bike and its rider can take more calculated turns, park in smaller spots, and even use less gasoline per mile traveled than others on the roads. While the smaller size of a bike has many benefits, it is not without its potential hazards. One of those hazards is practice known as lane splitting.
What is lane splitting?
One particular type of riding, known as "lane splitting," is barred by local and state laws. In the most common sense, lane splitting allows a motorcyclist to ride between cars by traveling in spaces between lanes, splitting cars that are stopped or slowly moving in traffic. This can enable a rider to bypass much of the congested traffic by moving to the front of a line. Also called stripe riding, white lining, or filtering, this action is illegal in 49 states in America but very common in many countries abroad.
California is the only state in the nation that legalizes lane splitting as a type of driving behavior among motorcyclists. In a 2012 study, the California Office of Traffic Safety reported that 77.6 percent of surveyed riders admitted they engaged in lane splitting while on freeways with 49.6 percent of those riders claiming they "always" or "often" lane split. These high numbers reveal a desire among riders to engage in lane splitting when it is legal even when traveling at presumably high rates of speed.
Why isn't lane splitting legal?
With a demonstrated interest in lane splitting in the only state where it is legal, some riders have questioned why this action is not legal in more states with a large number of bikers, including Arizona.
The publicly stated reasons tend to focus on the safety of the activity as well as the overall threat that bikers face due to motorcycle accidents. In 2013, there were 3,081 motorcycle accidents in the state which caused 2,653 injuries and 149 deaths. These are tragic statistics that no one wants to see increase.
Those in favor of lane splitting have argued that the action enables bikers to avoid congestion, thus easing overall traffic in some areas and by improving conditions for the rider.
Arguments have also been made that lane splitting enables bikers to avoid dangerous situations and, in turn, that lane splitting can reduce the number of motorcyclists that are rear-ended annually. As rear-end accidents are particularly deadly to bikers, this claim is one that has been considered seriously.
The Dangers of Lane Splitting
There are still numerous risks associated with lane splitting and these risks are why the activity remains a violation of traffic laws in so many areas, including Phoenix.
Riders who travel between cars may find that drivers and passengers in those vehicles are not anticipating the presence of a motorcycle and therefore may open a car door into the biker's path, creating a dooring accident that can seriously harm a rider. Further, lanes of traffic are designed to be wide enough to accommodate only a single vehicle. Failing to allow a vehicle the full use of that lane may increase the odds of a sideswipe accident, again which can be fatal to bikers. And if a car, truck, and bus switches lanes as a motorcycle approaches, a collision may result if the biker and the passenger vehicle are in the same space at the same time.
Most of the time, lane splitting places the greatest risk for injury on the shoulders of the biker engaged in the activity. However, that is not the only person that may be harmed.
If a biker has a passenger, that passenger is at risk for serious injury or death if a lane splitting accident occurs and if the accident involves a vehicle, anyone inside that vehicle may also be harmed.
Furthermore, if a motorcyclist splits a lane and causes a car to collide with them or cause an accident with another vehicle, drivers may not be liable for the damage or injuries caused since they were done at the fault of a motorcycle improperly passing.
Lane splitting accidents are complex and often require the expertise and experience of a motorcycle accident attorney to help victims plead their cases.
Legal Relief for Lane Splitting Accident Victims in Phoenix
Even though lane splitting is illegal in Phoenix and across the rest of the Valley, some riders still engage in the activity and, unfortunately, lane splitting collisions may result. When those collisions cause injuries or other physical harm, victims may not realize what options they have or whether they are entitled to legal relief.
Often, the laws that apply to Phoenix traffic accident victims provide for an avenue of financial recovery through the use of a civil claim for personal injuries. The facts surrounding a particular crash can determine who, if anyone, may be held legally liable for the injuries that resulted and which victims are entitled to obtain payment for their suffering.
Contacting an Experienced Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney
Victims of motorcycle collisions in the Phoenix area who are unsure of their options can call the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. at any time of the day or night where they will speak with a lawyer about their particular case. Our team of attorneys offers a free case consultation without obligation to all victims who call us toll free at (855) 749-5299 or locally at (602) 819-5191 and we will always keep everything discussed confidential. If you prefer, contact us online and let us help you understand your legal rights.