Oh, split! Motorcyclists can be liable for lane-splitting crashes

Drivers and motorcyclists must be especially careful when they are sharing the road. Motorcycles are smaller and can be much more difficult to see so riders must be sure they are making themselves visible and motorists must be sure they stay aware of motorcyclists.

Unfortunately, accidents can and do happen. In some cases, they happen because a car driver wasn’t paying attention. In other cases, however, they happen because a motorcyclist engaged in some dangerous and illegal behavior. This could involve lane-splitting.

Lane-splitting is something that motorcyclists can do because they are much smaller than cars and trucks. Riders can weave through cars without moving into other lanes in order to navigate traffic, which can be very tempting to do in areas of congestion.

Advocates for lane-splitting say that it is relatively safe, especially when riders are taking proper precautions. It has been argued that lane-splitting is perfectly appropriate when traffic is backed up because bikers don’t have to stop and start so much and it could reduce the chances of someone rear-ending or cutting off a rider.

However, in Tennessee and many other states across the U.S., lane-splitting is not authorized. Motorcyclists are held to the same rules as other motorists in that they must not pass through lanes of traffic.

What this means is that if an accident occurs because a car driver is switching lanes and crashes into a motorcyclist who is lane-splitting, the motorcyclist could be the one who is held accountable for the crash.

Whether you agree with lane-splitting laws or not, it is crucial to comply with this rule and all other rules of the road. Failure to do so could lead to a serious accident with catastrophic injuries.