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Is Lane Splitting Legal in New York?

January 27, 2022

Lane splitting happens when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of moving traffic. Lane-splitting is also called stripe riding and white lining. Motorcyclists frequently use lane splitting during heavy traffic congestion to pass trucks and other vehicles driving below the speed limit or standing still. Lane-splitting can be tempting, especially when dealing with heavy New York City traffic. However, lane splitting is illegal in New York. The only state that currently allows lane-splitting is California.

New York Law Outlaws Lane Splitting

Motorcyclists are smaller than other vehicles on the road. They can easily maneuver around larger vehicles, such as buses, trucks, and SUVs. Sometimes a motorcyclist ignores the designated Lanes of New York roads and chooses to ride in the space between vehicles. When traffic is moving slowly, they use the practice of lane-splitting to move ahead of other vehicles that are moving slowly or are stopped in traffic. 

Motorcyclists are not the only writers who engage in lane-splitting. Bicyclists and motor scooter riders have been known to lane split, as well. Lane-splitting is common in New York City because a large number of motorcyclists and bicyclists share the road with other drivers. New York City traffic is notoriously bad, prompting some bicyclists and motorcyclists to lane split to save time.

The Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) 1252 specifically prohibits lane-splitting. As a result,  motorcyclists in New York cannot drive between designated lanes of traffic or adjacent rows of vehicle traffic. It is important to point out that lane-splitting is different from lane sharing. With lane sharing, two motorcyclists ride next to each other in the same lane. Motorcyclists do have the right to ride with two motorcycles side-by-side in a lane, and they have the right to use a traffic lane fully.

Why is Lane Splitting So Dangerous?

NYPD has been adamant that New York City should not pass a law such as California’s that allows some degree of lane-splitting to prevent gridlocked traffic. Lane splitting can be dangerous for multiple reasons. First, motorcyclists are more difficult for other drivers to spot because they are smaller. Many drivers are not used to looking for motorcyclists on the road. When traffic is congested in New York City, the rider who is lane splitting can become pinned between two vehicles if the other driver cannot see the motorcyclist when they decide to change lanes. When a motorcyclist is pinned between two vehicles, they often suffer severe injuries or death.

Lane-splitting can also lead to road rage. When other drivers are stuck in slow New York City traffic and see another driver moving ahead of them by using an illegal driving behavior, they can become angered. After seeing a lane-splitting motorcycle list, a driver may lose their temper and engage in dangerous actions due to road rage. Lane splitting has been known to cause many dangerous accidents in New York City. A driver opening a door, adjusting their mirror, or tossing an item out the window can put a motorcyclist in harm’s way when they are lane splitting.

Recovering Compensation After a Lane Splitting Accident

New York’s no-fault insurance laws will come into play in a lane-splitting accident claim. Insurance policyholders are able to obtain compensation regardless of who was at fault for the lane-splitting accident. However, when drivers become seriously injured, they can seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. A motorcycle accident attorney can help you investigate your case and gather evidence showing what caused the crash and why the other driver is liable for the accident. Drivers who are in lane-splitting accents primarily caused by the other driver can see compensation through that driver’s policy.

However, New York is a contributory negligence state. As a result, your compensation will be reduced if you contributed to the accident in any way. If you are involved in a lane splitting accident, the insurer may claim that you caused the accident in an attempt to deny your claim. Alternatively, the insurer may claim that you contributed to the accident and try to offer you less compensation.

What to Do After a Lane Splitting Accident

Motorcycle accidents can be devastating, especially for motorcyclists who do not have the same type of protection as other drivers. If you have been involved in a lane-splitting accident, it is important that you get the medical care you need for your injuries. If you received emergency medical care, you need to continue getting the treatments your doctor orders. Make sure you take the medication you are prescribed and attend all of your specialist appointments with a physical therapist, neurologist, etc. Doing so is crucial for your health, but it can also help you prove that the lane-splitting accident caused your injuries and demonstrate the severity of your injuries for your compensation claim. 

Do not accept a settlement agreement from the insurance company. Insurance companies will try to offer low settlement agreements to injury victims, hoping they will take the money and not try to pursue more compensation. An attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement that accounts for all of your current and future financial losses related to the accident. Make sure you keep all of the receipts for your out-of-pocket medical expenses. 

Keep notes from your doctor’s office appointments and write down all of the ways your injuries have negatively affected your life. We also recommend meeting with an attorney as soon as possible. Lane-splitting accidents can be complicated, and it is important that you have an experienced attorney protecting your rights from the very beginning.

About Harrison Law Group, P.C.

The Harrison Law Group, P.C. is a well-known, and respected personal injury law firm who is exclusively dedicated to handing a wide range of personal injury cases which include but are not limited to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, traumatic brain injuries, serious and catastrophic injuries, soft tissue injuries, construction accidents, and many other injury cases.

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