Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | September 1, 2021 | New York Laws
Riding a motorcycle always involves risks. Other motorists have steel frames to protect them inside their cars and trucks. Motorcyclists don’t. Their chances of serious or fatal injury in an accident are much greater than other motorists and passengers.
Motorcyclists must exercise caution when riding in high-traffic areas like New York City. If you ride a motorcycle, you likely understand that obeying all traffic laws is one way you ride safely.
However, some motorcyclists aren’t familiar with all the laws that apply to them. For example, you may wonder if lane splitting in New York is legal. This guide will cover what you need to know about this important safety topic.
What is Lane Splitting?
Motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles on the road. Therefore, motorcyclists can maneuver around and between cars and trucks easier than other vehicles.
Sometimes, motorcyclists ignore the lanes of the road and ride in the spaces between vehicles. They often engage in this behavior when traffic is moving slowly. This allows them to move ahead of other vehicles that aren’t moving.
It’s worth noting that motorcycle riders aren’t the only ones who may engage in lane splitting. Cyclists and motor scooter riders may lane split, too. This phenomenon is common in New York City, where large numbers of cyclists share the road with motorists.
New York’s Lane Splitting Laws
Lane splitting is currently illegal in many states. New York is one of them.
A few years ago, California passed a law that allows some degree of lane splitting to prevent gridlock. However, the NYPD has been adamant that no such law should be passed in NYC.
Lane splitting can be dangerous for a number of reasons. They include the following:
Being Pinned Between Vehicles
Again, motorcycles and bicycles are smaller than other vehicles. This can make them more difficult to spot. In congested traffic, a lane-splitting rider may be pinned between two vehicles if another driver cannot see them when changing lanes.
Research has shown that lane splitting can lead to road rage. When people are stuck in slow-moving traffic, seeing others move ahead of them by engaging in unsafe and illegal driving behaviors can anger them. A driver may lose their temper and engage in road rage because of a lane-splitting motorcycle rider.
Major Accidents Caused by Minor Actions
Lane splitting is also dangerous because it can cause an accident. A driver adjusting a mirror, opening a door, or tossing an item out a window can put a lane-splitting rider in harm’s way.
How Lane Splitting Could Affect Compensation After an Accident
Suppose you’re involved in a motorcycle accident in New York. You can typically seek compensation for your financial losses by filing an injury claim against the negligent party who caused your accident. However, New York has a contributory negligence statute.
These rules will reduce your compensation if you contributed to the accident. If you were involved in an accident while lane splitting, an insurer may argue that you caused the accident and deny your claim. Alternatively, they may claim you contributed to the accident and offer you less compensation.
Therefore, you should avoid lane splitting while riding your motorcycle in NYC. It can protect your health and preserve your right to an injury claim after an accident.