Motorcycling is inherently risky. While cars and trucks have rigid steel frames that protect drivers and passengers, motorcycles don’t. Therefore, the chances of serious injury or death are much higher when accidents occur. Thankfully, riders can avoid or minimize the risk by riding safely and obeying New York’s traffic laws for lane splitting.
What is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting occurs when someone drives a vehicle between lanes during slow or stopped traffic. While motorcycles engage in this most often, motorcycle riders are not the only ones to engage in the practice. This is common in New York City where cars, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds often share the same street.
Motorcycles are small—much smaller than most other vehicles. Their size makes it easy for riders to move between and around cars and trucks, but not all do it safely. Some motorcyclists ignore road rules and ride between vehicles when traffic is moving slowly to get ahead of them.
The Law on Lane Splitting in New York
Almost all states have laws prohibiting lane splitting, and New York is no exception. Several years ago, California enacted a law allowing lane splitting during gridlock, but the NYPD is adamantly opposed to such laws. New York has prohibited lane splitting because of the following dangers.
- Getting trapped between vehicles. Bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles are smaller than most other vehicles, which makes them tougher to spot. In traffic, lane-splitting riders may be caught between vehicles if a driver can’t see them during a lane change.
- Being the victim of road rage. Research shows that lane-splitters are more likely to become road rage victims. When drivers are stuck in traffic, seeing others getting ahead illegally can be quite frustrating—and unfortunately, some drivers act on that frustration, causing bodily harm to a lane-splitting rider.
Lane splitting is dangerous because it increases the risk of serious accidents. Whether it’s an intentional or inadvertent act, a driver’s or a rider’s actions can create the potential for life-altering and life-ending injuries.
Impact of Splitting Lanes in Accident Lawsuits
If you’re in a motorcycle accident in the state of New York, you can seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses by filing a legal claim against the at-fault party following an accident. However, the state follows the contributory negligence doctrine, which will reduce compensation according to your share of fault.
If you’ve been in an accident involving driving between lanes, the other party’s insurance company may allege that you were responsible and deny the claim. Alternatively, an insurer may say that your actions contributed to the accident and use that to make a lower settlement offer.
For these and other reasons, it’s best not to split lanes while riding a motorcycle, scooter, or bicycle in New York. By following the rules of the road, you’ll protect yourself and your right to file a claim after a serious accident.
When to Hire a Lawyer After an Accident
If you’ve suffered physical and economic losses after an accident in New York, you may be eligible for compensation. Hiring an accident attorney will provide you the best chances of betting a positive result.