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Does lane splitting increase motorcyclists' safety?

Minnesotans who have visited California are likely familiar with “lane splitting,” the maneuver that Golden State motorcyclists use to combat the congested freeways. At first, a motorcycle whizzing past you as you sit in five lanes of traffic and coming within inches of your vehicle is a shock. After a few days on California highways, however, many out-of-state drivers get used to it.

Lane splitting is only legal in California, but as major metropolitan areas in other states wrestle with increased highway congestion for longer periods of the day, there is talk about legalizing lane splitting elsewhere. Lane splitting is illegal in Minnesota, but advocates have reached out to lawmakers requesting a change in the law.

Is It Safer?

Proponents – predominantly motorcyclists – say lane splitting not only reduces congestion, it actually makes life on highways safer for motorcyclists by reducing the likelihood of being rear-ended by distracted drivers.

Opponents say it places too much responsibility on the drivers of cars and trucks who want to change lanes and now must be aware of possible encroaching motorcyclists.

One analysis of statistics on motorcycle fatalities from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration surmised that as many as 178 lives could be saved per year by allowing lane splitting nationally because a high percentage of these deaths occur when a motorcycle is rear-ended. In addition, the report states, a nationwide lane-splitting law could reduce annual motorcyclist injuries by 18,000.

Of course, opponents of the lane splitting law say otherwise. It is unlikely we will know anytime soon, as there is no indication that Minnesota or any other state is near to joining California in allowing lane splitting.

Whether lane splitting is allowed where you are driving, or not, it is always important to check your mirror and blind spots whenever changing lanes.

Motorcycles Are Returning

We are more than halfway through April and it doesn’t feel much like spring across Minnesota and Wisconsin, but warmer weather is inevitable. More motorcycles will be on highways and city streets soon enough. It is important for all motorists – car and truck drivers as well as motorcyclists – to do their part to keep motorcyclists safe by obeying traffic laws and being extra aware during warm weather months.

When motorcycle collisions do occur, the injuries are often serious. Insurance coverages for motorcycles are usually different from automobiles. In the event of a crash it is important to know your rights. If you have been injured and need legal guidance from an attorney who will protect your interests, especially with insurers, Law Firm.

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