Lane-splitting is a practice used by motorcyclists that is currently only legal in the state of California. Previously thought to be dangerous, recent studies are now suggesting that lane-splitting could be a good thing when used responsibly.
Could this change make its way into motorcycle/motorized vehicle driving manuals across the country one day?
What is lane splitting?
Lane splitting refers to any time a motorcyclist rides on a lane divider for traffic traveling in the same direction.
Lane splitting is typically used during slow or stopped traffic to improve the flow of traffic.
Is it legal?
Mississippi is a gray area when it comes to lane-splitting because the practice is not legal, but there are also no laws explicitly forbidding the behavior. However, an officer may choose to ticket a rider for reckless driving or a similar charge if he or she believes lane-splitting is unsafe.
What is the concern over lane splitting?
Many are concerned that lane-splitting might not allow the rider and other vehicles enough room to travel safely. Yet, motorcyclists actually learn to use three different lane positions within a single lane while traveling. Thus, using the divider line should give motorcycles plenty of room to pass vehicles occupying the other lanes.
However, under certain conditions, lane-splitting could lead to an accident. For one, the practice could be very dangerous at high speeds. Even at low speeds, an automobile driver who is not focused on driving or expecting lane-splitting could veer over into a rider accidentally.
Statistically, drivers have difficulty fully recognizing motorcycle riders even when they clearly see them because of the size and shape of the vehicle.
Why lane splitting is safer?
After legalizing lane-splitting in California, the state saw a 30 percent drop in the number of motorcycle deaths. Some experts are saying that when lane-splitting is used in slow or stop-and-go traffic, it minimizes the risk of motorcyclists being rear-ended.
Further, new automatic safety assist technology can keep drivers in newer vehicles from veering out of their lane. This could further support lane-splitting and prevent dangerous motorcycle accidents resulting from negligence.