It is not uncommon in the USA to see motorcycles driving along the edge of a traffic lane between two lanes of car drivers. As a motorcycle rider, a person may assume this is allowed and see it as a great way to get ahead of congested traffic.
The question is, is lane splitting legal in Indiana?
This guide has everything road users need to know about the legality of this maneuver in this state and the potential dangers and consequences of lane-splitting motorcyclists. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also provide defensive riding tips for motorcycle riders.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is the term used for when motorcyclists drive in the middle of two lanes of traffic. It is also sometimes called white lining, as they usually drive along the white lines designed to show the divide between lanes.
It is most commonly seen in stopped traffic or when traffic is moving slowly in the same direction, but it also happens on fast-moving busy roads. The motorcyclist essentially creates a third lane squeezed between the two rows of cars.
Another term worth knowing is lane filtering- often confused with lane splitting. It is similar, but lane filtering occurs when a motorcycle is weaving between and through multiple traffic lanes when they are moving slowly.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Indiana?
Lane splitting is illegal in Indiana. Motorcyclists who are found splitting lanes are breaking the law.
The primary reason given by the State of Indiana for the decision to make lane splitting and filtering illegal is safety concerns for motorcyclists and other drivers alike.
Some states allow lane splitting, which can cause confusion for riders crossing state lines. The decision to legalize lane splitting is not something that is on the cards in Indiana at this time.
What Are the Dangers of Illegal Lane Splitting?
Many motorcyclists in other states split lanes regularly- and legally- so why does Indiana believe it is too dangerous?
There is plenty of physical evidence to show that lane splitting is not safe- specifically in the form of high numbers of riders injured while lane splitting or filtering.
Lane splitting encroaches on the space of two drivers at a time- cutting into the available road area on both sides of the white line. This leads to reduced movement and use of the lanes for multiple drivers- which creates a higher risk of an accident happening.
It is also highly dangerous for motorcyclists to travel at any speed down such a narrow space. Debris on the road, an animal cutting through, a sudden opening of a door, or an uneven surface could be enough to cause an incident with such limited road space.
Blind spots are always dangerous for motorcyclists, but even more so when they are somewhere they are not meant to be. A driver may assume they are okay to pull out into the lane beside them when traffic is moving slowly or open their door because the traffic is stopped. If a motorcyclist is lane-splitting, this could lead to a serious injury for multiple parties.
Many accidents happen because of lane splitting, which has contributed to the decision by most states to make it against the law. The combined experience of those who have suffered in accidents already should be enough to understand that the dangers outweigh the benefits.
Even in states where lane splitting is legal, riders are still advised that it is not in their best interest to do it. Vehicles are not designed to stay confined to such narrow spaces, and the margin for error is just too slight for it to be worthwhile.
Possible Consequences of Motorcycle Lane Splitting in Indiana
Other than the risk of causing an accident or getting injured, motorcyclists lane splitting illegally should consider the other potential consequences.
Fines and charges from the government or traffic police for the breach of road rules
The serious threat of injury
Damage to the motorcycle and nearby cars
Liability in a personal injury or property damage case
What Does It Mean for a Personal Injury Claim if Lane Splitting Occurs?
Arguably the most important part of a personal injury claim is proving negligence. Without negligence, there can be no liability.
What does that mean for a lane-splitting case?
In short, a lane-splitting accident that occurs when a motorcycle is performing an illegal action is not necessarily the fault of the driver. Other vehicles have no duty of care to a motorcyclist deciding to lane split since they shouldn't be there to begin with.
Negligence only applies when a duty of care is breached. No duty of care means no breach- which means no negligence and no liability. The other driver could even claim against the motorcyclist for property damage or their own injuries.
If found at fault for the accident because of illegal lane splitting, motorcyclists could face the cost of their medical treatment and repairs plus the medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering of the other party.
How Can Schuerger Shunnarah Help?
Motorcycle accidents that occur while a rider is splitting lanes can lead to complicated legal cases. It can be difficult to prove negligence and claim compensation, but some exceptions apply.
A motorcycle accident lawyer in Indianapolis from Schuerger and Shunnarah go to war for Indy accident victims and leave no stone unturned as they fight their case. If there is a claim to be made, this is the team to help make it.
Contact the team today to arrange a free consultation and discuss a case with a leading Indiana personal injury claims expert. Our team can also help answer questions like What is the slip and fall law in Indiana?
Not only is lane splitting dangerous, but it is also illegal in Indiana. A vehicle involved in a motorcycle accident while they split lanes may be unable to collect compensation- and could face criminal and civil legal action from others.
If there is a designated motorcyclist's lane, it is best to stick to that. When there is not one, riders should follow the same road rules and laws as other road users to avoid fines and the threat of injuries.