Lane splitting happens when a motorcycle drives in between two lanes of traffic and between other vehicles, or shares a lane with a different motorcycle. It is a practice which is gaining in popularity around the country and which facilitates the movement of motorcycles in through traffic under specific circumstances efficiently and safely. Lane splitting is so far legal in California, where the State Highway Patrol has approved guidelines to permit the practice, without any laws prohibiting it.
Virginia is one of the states that explicitly prohibit lane splitting. Some people, however, consider the practice safer than having motorcycles take up a car’s place during a traffic jam. Currently, there is a petition to the general assembly in Virginia to legalize this practice, but the change is yet to be approved. It is important for motorcyclists we should realize that until there is a change in the law, lane splitting can create added liability in case of an accident.
Virginia is a “fault” state, which means that fault needs to be verified before any damages can be collected in the case of an accident. The legal accountability grants damages for the accident. Some examples of fault include;
• A driver doesn’t follow regulations, exercises the common law or drives while overly exhausted or drunk.
• The motorcycle is repaired in a careless or unprofessional way.
• The manufacturer of the motorcycle installed a defective part.
• The local authorities poorly maintain the roads
If you happen to get involved in a motorcycle accident in Virginia, it is advisable to speak to a motorcycle accident lawyer at http://www.theparrishlawfirm.com/blog/could-lane-splitting-become-legal-in-virginia/ as early as possible. An immediate investigation into the causes of the accident will help determine fault and build up your case.
If a bill is legislated, it will permit motorcycles to proceed past vehicles by riding in between two lanes of traffic for as long it is flowing in the same direction. Other terms that would be used to describe the same practice include white lining, filtering and strip lining.
In addition to Virginia, other states that are considering laws to allow or regulate lane splitting include Nevada, Washington DC and Oregon. The basic factor to be considered by all these states is the maximum speeds at which splitting would be established.
For instance in California, the earlier version of the proposed law suggested that cars to be passed should be traveling at a speed of not more than thirty miles per hour and the motorcycle lane splitting could be at a speed of more than ten miles per hour ahead of the car.
Unlike California, Virginia has an existing statute which forbids lane splitting. The State Code makes it unlawful for a vehicle to drive alongside another vehicle travelling in a lane specifically designed for only one vehicle. Motorcycles are exempted from the prohibition only to the degree that two motorcycles alongside each other in a lane designed for a vehicle
Virginia residents are supporting a petition to urge the state legislature to pass a law allowing lane splitting. The residents are gathering up signatures to a goal of 5, 000 to push for the legalization of lane splitting. The residents claim that lane splitting poses no risk if conducted for not more than 10 miles faster than the traffic.
While the major risk involved will be when car drivers become inattentive to the motorcycles on the lane, the major benefit will be the reduction of the risk of a motorcycle being hit while stuck on a vehicles’ lane.