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Lane-splitting may affect your motorcycle accident lawsuit

The term "lane-splitting" refers to when motorcyclists ride between the gaps of cars formed by lanes of traffic. Typically, lane-splitting occurs when traffic is congested and backed up. The thin size of the motorcycle's frame will permit a motorcyclist to travel rapidly in between idled cars as they inch forward at a crawl.

Ironically, recent research is now showing that lane-splitting not only saves motorcyclists time, but it may also be much safer than behaving like a car in certain circumstances. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accidents in which vehicles are rear-ended represent 40 percent of reported crashes. Many of these were in accidents involving minor fender benders between vehicles. However, due to the inherent lack of protection for motorcyclists even a minor rear-end accident could prove catastrophic.

Speed is another factor why lane-splitting may actually be safer for motorcyclists. A recent collaborative study between the University of California at Berkeley and the California Highway Patrol took a look at 7,836 motorcycle accidents. That study found that 1,163 of those accidents happened while motorcyclists were lane-splitting. Here is the amazing part of that statistic: many of those riders hurt while lane-splitting suffered significantly less physical damage than other types of accidents. Researchers speculate that it is because the average speed of lane-splitting motorcyclists is usually 10 miles less than surrounding vehicles. In fact, the study showed that traveling less than 30 mph was the safest way for motorcycles to lane-split.

Here in North Carolina lane-splitting is expressly forbidden. You should know that if you have an accident while lane-splitting, it is very likely that your violation of state traffic laws will receive some scrutiny. Your North Carolina personal injury attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your case and help you fully understand the effect that lane-splitting may have on the outcome of your lawsuit.

Source: American Motorcyclist Association, "North Carolina State Motorcycle Laws" accessed Mar. 25, 2015

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