It’s not an infrequent occurrence on New Hampshire roads: motorcyclists pass between marked traffic lanes to zip ahead of other vehicles going in the same direction. When traffic moves slowly, this practice is known as “lane-splitting.” When vehicles are stopped altogether, it’s called “lane-filtering.” In either case, these practices are illegal in New Hampshire. If law enforcement catches you lane-splitting or filtering, you could be slapped with a hefty fine or other penalties.
Below we discuss the controversial topic of lane-splitting and lane-filtering and share how the New Hampshire motorcycle accident lawyers of Tenn And Tenn, P.A. can help if you’ve been involved in a lane-splitting accident. If you have a question, call us today at888-332-5855 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Why do motorcyclists lane-split?
Although it may not be evident to motorists stuck in traffic, bikers lane-split for more reasons than impatience. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable in slow or heavy traffic. It’s not unusual for car and truck drivers to get bored during stop-and-go traffic and begin engaging in distractions, such as texting or applying make-up, that increase the risk of rear-ending the vehicle ahead of them. For motorcyclists, even a low-impact bump can knock them off their bikes and give rise to severe injuries. To avoid this scenario, some bikers pass between slow-moving or stopped vehicles.
The American Motorcycle Association endorses lane-splitting, arguing that evidence shows that crash frequency is slightly reduced when bikers split lanes in slow traffic. Many states, including New Hampshire, have debated legalizing the practice. In 2016, state representative Joseph Lachance introduced HB 1308, which would have allowed lane-splitting when traffic was stopped or moving 10 miles per hour or less. The bill never became law. California, Utah, and Montana are the only states to have passed a law authorizing lane-splitting and filtering under specific conditions.
The dangers of lane-splitting
The overwhelming majority of states have decided that the risks of lane-splitting outweigh its rewards and specifically outlaw the practice. Detractors argue that the practice can increase the risk of motorcycle accidents for several reasons, including:
• Enhances risk in lane changes. Motorists making a quick lane change may not notice lane-splitting bikers until the last moment and might either crash into them or swerve into another car to avoid the biker.
• Decreases predictability. A key road safety component is a shared understanding of expected behavior. When a motorcyclists lane-splits, it can surprise or unnerve drivers and cause them to react in ways that increase the risk of a crash.
• Increases risk when cars drift. Motorists generally stay in the middle of their lane when driving, but occasionally a driver may drift toward the edge of the lane without realizing it. A lane-splitting motorcyclist can get trapped or crushed between two cars that drift simultaneously. A drifting car could also force the motorcycle into the other lane, resulting in the biker being sideswiped or a surprised motorist slamming on their brakes and causing a pileup.
• Motorist Rage. Unfortunately, some frustrated motorists become enraged by motorcyclists who lane-split, feeling that it’s unfair that they don’t “wait their turn.” This anger can cause some drivers to act unwisely and unsafely, such as intentionally blocking a motorcyclist from passing, which may cause a collision.
• Motorcyclists driving too fast. Studies have shown that any benefit to lane-splitting is lost when a biker exceeds the speed of the surrounding traffic by more than 15 miles per hour. Bikers are more likely to crash under these circumstances.
A five-year French study on lane-splitting bolsters naysayer’s position. The study, published in 2021, found that areas in France permitting lane-splitting during these five years had a 12 percent increase in motorcycle crashes, although a decrease in rear-end collisions. Areas that banned the practice showed an 11 percent decrease in accidents.
How Tenn And Tenn, P.A. motorcycle accident attorneys can help
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident involving lane-splitting or lane-filtering, and that was caused by the negligent, illegal, or reckless actions of another motorist, contact the motorcycle accident attorneys at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. as soon as possible.
We can investigate who was at fault and fight for fair and full compensation for your medical bills, property damage, and other economic losses. You can depend on our experience and knowledge of motorcycle accidents to capably guide you through this complex legal minefield and reach the best possible outcome.
Contact Tenn And Tenn, P.A. today at888-332-5855 or online for your free evaluation. Our attorneys have helped numerous clients find satisfaction throughout New Hampshire, including Concord, Bedford, and Manchester. We are ready to help you too.