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Motorcycle safety: lane splitting really can prevent accidents

There are many reasons why motorcyclists are more at risk on the road than car and truck drivers. By their nature, bike accidents can involve fatalities and catastrophic injuries because of the size of the vehicle and exposure of the driver or passenger. Sadly, it is often the families of the injured who are faced with loss and financial need. They are entitled to seek compensation from anyone responsible for the crash.

Some interesting new data is surfacing that may eventually lessen the risk for motorcycle riders to some extent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the most common accident is a rear-ender. They comprise 40 percent of all wrecks. Wisconsin drivers can easily visualize that situation on our roads. However, when a rear-end collision involves a motorcycle, the likelihood of the cyclist being injured increases substantially.

A possible solution is touted by some. It's called "lane splitting." This means that motorcycle riders have the option of riding between traffic lanes. Critics don't support the practice, and it is illegal in most areas of the country. Around the world, however, it is an accepted practice.

Supporters contend that it is not dangerous. They believe that a motorcyclist sitting properly in stopped traffic is in a far more precarious position. Notwithstanding the benefits of moving all traffic along faster, allowing riders to pass cars improves safety conditions for everyone they say.

Many drivers have an automatic response to the idea, expressing the thinking that bikers are just trying to jump to the head of the line with risky, potentially accident-causing maneuvers. Again, it's suggested that this isn't the usual case at all. What's called a "filtering bike" vanishes from the line altogether as it works its way to the front of stopped traffic. It can then accelerate more quickly than a car or truck, safely getting out of everyone's way instead of trying to act like a car.

It's likely that there will be much discussion and further study based on the stated position of NHTSA. Laws may change. In the meantime, it remains important for motorcyclists to be vigilant on the roads and hold at-fault car drivers accountable if they suffer injuries in a crash.

Source: Motorcycle Safety Foundation, "Motorcycle Factors: Lane Use" Nov. 06, 2014

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