San Fernando Valley, along with the greater Los Angeles area, is known nationwide for its perpetually busy highways and rush hour traffic. Dense freeways make driving environments significantly more dangerous for motorcycles, which are in constant competition with the bigger and heavier vehicles on the roads beside them. One driving method adopted by many motorcycle riders is known as lane-splitting. Lane splitting is when a motorcycle drivers maneuvers through slow or stopped traffic by driving in the narrow space between lanes.
An initial reaction to lane splitting would be to view it as illegal and unsafe. However, California is unique in that it's driving laws actually permit lane-splitting in a "safe and prudent" manner. In fact, most states do not specifically prohibit the practice in their driving laws. The truth is that lane splitting can be done in a safe way, decongesting traffic by allowing smaller vehicles like motorcycles to keep moving.
Most vehicle drivers find lane-splitting extremely annoying. However, it is actually beneficial to the flow of slow traffic. Consider rush hour in which lane-splitting was made illegal. Since motorcycles are generally two-wheeled vehicles, the rider would have to support themselves by stopping their bike and placing their feet on the ground every time traffic would slow down under a certain speed. This is necessary so that the bike would not tip over. Other vehicles would then be forced to stop behind the bikes unnecessarily.
Rather than contribute to the slow motion of traffic by prohibiting lane-splitting, California driving laws have allowed the practice. While it is admitted that lane-splitting can be done in an unsafe manner if the rider is reckless in the choices he or she makes, lane-splitting accidents are not always attributed to the rider of the motorcycle. Since lane-splitting is lawful, drivers of vehicles have the responsibility to practice safe driving on their part in order to accommodate riders who pass by them in close proximity.
Lane-splitting does increase the risk of an accident because it reduces the space between motorcycles and cars, thereby reducing the room and time for reaction. When an accident occurs, insurance companies will immediately attempt to place the blame on the motorcycle rider because the practice is so intensely scrutinized with view to the methods of the rider. If the motorcyclist is innocent, proving innocence and collecting damages can prove to be a challenge. Some ways that motorcycle riders can prove their claim for compensation is by showing that:
There are a number of ways that the other motorist can contribute to a lane splitting accident. It is common for cars to maneuver between lanes in slow or stopped traffic. However, it is equally common for drivers to suffer from "bottle-neck" after being in traffic for a long time. This refers to the eagerness to move faster and make abrupt movements after being stuck in traffic for a long time. The frustration with traffic can lead drivers to disregard their duty to practice safe lane changes including looking in their rear view mirrors and signaling before switching lanes. Motorcycle riders depend on a driver's ability to see them coming up beside them from the rear view mirror of their car. If a driver fails to look before they switch, a motorcyclist is far more likely to be injured in a lane-splitting accident.
Regardless of who is at fault for a lane splitting accident between car and motorcycle, the rider of the motorcycle is sure to have serious injuries from the event while the vehicle driver may walk away with no more than a scratch. When an accident is caused by a motorist, the motorcycle rider will need aggressive representation by an experienced personal injury attorney in San Fernando Valley to ensure that they prove their claim and receive the compensation they are entitled to.
If you were injured in a lane splitting accident that was caused by another driver's negligence or recklessness, contact our San Fernando Valley personal injury lawyers to discuss how The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus can help you file a successful claim for damages today.