The debate on whether lane-splitting should be legal in Oklahoma has gained significant attention in recent years among the motorcycling community, as well as among lawmakers and the general public. As traffic increases on state highways, some motorcyclists find themselves stuck in traffic jams that they believe could be avoided if allowed to split lanes. But, the practice also has its detractors, who argue that allowing motorcyclists to move between lanes could cause accidents and be dangerous for the riders and other motorists.
Lane-splitting, sometimes called filtering or white-lining, is the practice of riding a motorcycle between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic. The idea is that riders can maneuver through tight spaces and bypass congestion, decreasing their travel time while potentially improving their safety. Lane-splitting is common in parts of the world, such as Europe and Asia, but remains largely illegal in the United States (only allowed in California, Montana, Utah and Arizona).
The Benefits of Lane-Splitting
Advocates for lane-splitting argue that it offers numerous benefits to motorcyclists and other road users. By allowing riders to move through congested traffic more efficiently, lane-splitting may help to reduce overall congestion for everyone. Motorcyclists also argue that lane-splitting improves their safety by reducing the likelihood of being rear-ended by another vehicle. They can move forward when traffic slows down or stops. Lastly, lane-splitting may offer environmental benefits by reducing the time spent idling in traffic, leading to decreased fuel consumption and emissions.
The Risks of Lane-Splitting
Critics of lane-splitting raise concerns about the potential dangers of the practice, particularly when it comes to the risk of accidents. Because lane-splitting requires riders to navigate tight spaces and react quickly to changing traffic patterns, it can be more challenging and potentially hazardous, particularly for inexperienced riders. Additionally, drivers in states where lane-splitting is not common may be unprepared for the unexpected presence of a motorcyclist between lanes, increasing the risk of a collision.
The Statistics on Lane-Splitting
Several studies have been conducted on the safety implications of lane-splitting, with varying results. One notable study from the University of California Berkeley found that motorcyclists who lane-split were less likely to be involved in rear-end accidents than those who didn't. Of all the motorcyclists that were lane-splitting at the time of an accident, 2.6 percent were involved in rear-end accidents compared to 4.6 percent of non-lane-splitters.
The study also found that lane-splitting riders were less likely to suffer head, torso, or fatal injuries.
- Lane-splitting injuries - Head (9 percent), Neck (7.4 percent), Torso (19 percent), Fatal (1.2 percent)
- Non-lane-splitting injuries - Head (16.8 percent), Neck (8.9 percent), Torso (28.6 percent), Fatal (3 percent)
Should Oklahoma Legalize Lane-Splitting?
Ultimately, the decision to legalize lane-splitting in Oklahoma comes down to a balance between the potential benefits and risks of the practice. If the practice were to be legalized, some stipulations or guidelines could be put in place to minimize the potential dangers, such as requiring a certain level of rider experience or limiting the speed differential between motorcyclists and other vehicles. Public education campaigns to raise awareness of the practice and its implications for riders and drivers could also address some concerns surrounding lane-splitting.
Injured in an Oklahoma City Motorcycle Accident?
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, the legal team at Fulmer Sill can help. Our experienced attorneys have decades of combined experience helping motorcyclists seek justice after an accident. We will fight for your rights and work to get you the compensation you deserve.
Call us today at (405) 433-7414 for a free consultation.