Traffic jams happen regularly along two-lane highways. Whether caused by heavier than anticipated vehicle flow, an emergency, or construction, they frustrate drivers. During these situations, motorcyclists may be tempted to drive between the stopped or slow-crawling lanes to make up for lost time. This type of lane-splitting is prohibited in Pennsylvania. Yet, despite its illegality, many motorcyclists make it a normal practice. In some situations, their decision can lead to an accident.
A major issue with lane-splitting is how close the motorcycle is to cars, SUVs, and trucks. Each lane has been specifically designed to accommodate a line of moving vehicles. When the motorcycle races between the two lanes, it reduces the amount of space available for everyone to navigate freely.
Another problem with lane-splitting occurs because other drivers may not expect a motorcycle to speed up next to them from behind. For instance, if a car has been stopped in slow-moving traffic, the driver may try to merge into an exit lane. They would signal to other drivers their attention to switch lanes. If another driver opens the gap to let them in, they could run into a motorcycle speeding between lanes while they are legally merging. Conversely, the motorcycle could hit the car from behind. However, not all lane-splitting happens in slow traffic, which leads to another concern about the practice. When traffic is moving at posted speeds, drivers are especially less likely to anticipate a motorcycle coming between lanes.
Despite concerns about lane-splitting and its prohibition in Pennsylvania, many advocates claim the practice should be legalized because it can save motorcyclists from rear-end collisions. One study from the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center indicated that under specific circumstances, lane-splitting may reduce motorcyclists’ chances of serious or fatal harm due to crashes. However, only one western state has moved to make lane-splitting legal at this point.
Still, proving liability in a lane-splitting accident in Pennsylvania is not cut and dry, regardless of the practice being illegal. Every accident occurs because of a series of unique events and choices. Case in point, even though a motorcyclist improperly split a lane, they may not have entirely contributed to a crash if the other drivers were acting recklessly. For that reason, anyone who is significantly hurt in a lane-splitting accident in Pennsylvania should consider speaking with a legal expert to help navigate the process.
If you were involved in a Pennsylvania crash that occurred because of lane-splitting, the Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. are available to talk about your case. Call us at 412-765-1888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we represent clients throughout western Pennsylvania, including Washington County, Allegheny County, and Lawrence County.
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