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Should lane-splitting be legal?

The debate about whether or not lane-splitting should be legal seems to have dragged on for years. While North Carolina's laws do not specifically condone or banish the practice, some states are beginning to officially accept the maneuver as legal and publish guides on how to do it safely. New studies support the move and explain why lane-splitting may not be as bad as many people believe.

A new study reported in Cycle World explains that motorcycles may actually be safer riding between lanes in heavy traffic than they are staying in front of and behind other vehicles. The study, which was performed by the University of California Berkeley, analyzed over 6,000 collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles. Of the accidents, 997 of them involved drivers who were practicing lane-splitting at the time of the crash. Drivers who had been splitting lanes were found to be less likely to experience torso and head injuries and were rear-ended less often than drivers who remained in their own lanes. Fatal injuries were also less likely to occur when drivers split lanes. The report claimed that congested traffic was the most dangerous situation for a motorcyclist to be in, because stop-and-go traffic left them vulnerable to distracted drivers and other dangers.

Many countries around the world already allow lane-splitting and have found that the practice alleviates congestion for other motorists. Findings also show that riders who use the maneuver are often practicing safer habits than those who do not. These drivers reported lower levels of intoxication and more often wore safer protective gear than other riders who did not split lanes.

The American Motorcyclist Association advises that, although lane-splitting has many benefits for the safety of the riders and convenience of other vehicles on the road, there are also potential downfalls. As more motorcyclists begin to adopt the practice, the possibility that inappropriate actions of a few less responsible drivers could affect the privileges for everyone remains high. California, the first state to legalize the practice, is attempting to lower the chances of this happening by publishing pamphlets offering guidelines on how to safely practice the move.

Advocates of lane-splitting are pushing for the maneuver to become legal in other states with the support of studies such as the one performed by UC Berkeley. The hope is that this will decrease fatal accidents for motorcycle riders and increase the safety of everyone on the road. For those motorists who have been involved in accidents, an experienced attorney can help you get the compensation you need to recover and get back on the road.

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