October 20, 2021 | Motorcycle Accidents
If you’re riding a motorcycle, you might have heard the term “lane splitting.” You might have also wondered what that means and if it’s legal in Oklahoma.
Lane splitting is when a motorcycle rider cuts down the middle of two lanes of traffic. It’s also called “lane filtering.” And it’s illegal in Oklahoma.
The law describes it as passing other vehicles between lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. It means you can’t “split” a lane to make way for yourself.
This also applies to motorized scooters, motorized bicycles, or electric-assisted bicycles. It doesn’t apply to authorized emergency vehicles.
How Common Is Lane Splitting?
Although the American Motorcyclist Association endorses the practice, only 3 states in the US explicitly allow lane filtering. Until recently, California was the only state that allowed lane splitting. Utah and Montana now allow it. And it’s under consideration in 3 more states in 2021. Some states, like Oklahoma, forbid lane splitting. Other states have no law about it either way.
Most motorcyclists tend to lane split when traffic is slow or stopped. But any number of factors could entice motorcyclists to attempt to pass cars traveling the speed limit. Road rage, trying to show off, or just being in a hurry.
It may be a safer practice, say, on freeways when motorcycles pass through cars that are slow or stopped. Even in states where lane filtering is legal, it’s still not something that car drivers are expecting.
How Can Lane Splitting Cause Accidents?
Research on the safety of lane splitting is limited. There is some information from a California study claiming that lane splitting lowers motorcycle crashes.
Given that most states don’t track accidents specifically related to lane splitting, it’s difficult to say that it’s a safe practice.
Because there’s no motorcycle lane going down the middle of two lanes of traffic, cars aren’t expecting to see a motorcycle zipping next to them. Police officers may be exempt, but they’ll have sirens and lights to alert drivers.
Lane splitting motorcycle accidents occur by:
- Cars not seeing motorcycles during lane changes
- Rear-end crashes – drivers slam on brakes when a motorcyclist zooms up behind them
- Motorcycles clipping a car mirror and losing control
- Hit and run accidents – motorcycle may sideswipe a car and keep going
No matter the speed, lane splitting can be dangerous and can result in a deadly motorcycle accident.
What Are Common Injuries Caused By Lane Splitting Accidents?
Accidents on a motorcycle can be severe. Even when wearing a helmet, you’ve got little protection. If you’re a motorcycle rider involved in an accident while lane splitting, you could be particularly vulnerable because you’re surrounded by cars.
If you are involved in a traffic accident caused by a motorcycle while lane splitting, your injuries can vary widely depending on the nature of the crash.
Some injuries that can occur in a lane splitting accident include:
- Brain injury
- Catastrophic injury
- Broken bones
- Back injury
- And other common types of car accident injuries
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a motorcycle that was lane filtering, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn all of your options.
Can I Still Get Compensation if I Got Injured While Lane Splitting?
It’s possible. Oklahoma follows the comparative negligence rule when assessing damages. As long as you are less than 51% at fault for the accident, you could still recover some compensation. If you were involved in an accident while lane splitting, whether the accident was caused because you were lane splitting will likely be a factor. Each accident is unique. Determination of your level of fault is key to how much compensation you will get (if any).
It’s best to consult a qualified personal injury lawyer for legal advice if you’ve been injured in an accident while lane splitting. An experienced attorney will help fight back if you’re being unfairly blamed.