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Posted on September 27, 2023 in Personal Injury
As smaller vehicles, motorcycles can do some things the larger vehicles they share the roads with can’t. Motorcyclists can execute certain special maneuvers, among them practices like lane splitting and lane filtering that could make it easier to keep moving when traffic is slow or stopped.
Unfortunately, these maneuvers can also present a risk to motorcyclists and other drivers. So, what is the difference between lane splitting and lane filtering, and are they legal in South Carolina?
Lane splitting is the act of operating a motorcycle between two rows of slowly moving or stopped traffic traveling in the same direction. It typically involves riding the motorcycle down the broken painted line dividing the lanes on either side.
Proponents of lane splitting argue that it protects motorcycle riders from rear-end collisions and allows them to move more freely. Opponents argue that it encourages recklessness on the part of motorcycle operators and increases the risk of accidents because other drivers may not react quickly enough to a motorcycle’s unexpected appearance during a traffic jam.
Lane filtering vs. splitting is an important distinction, not least because many places treat them differently under the law. Lane filtering is the act of moving rapidly from one lane to another in slowly moving traffic. In most states that allow lane filtering, it’s legal only if the motorcycle is moving at a low speed.
Proponents of lane filtering vs. lane splitting argue that it helps keep traffic moving and is easier on motorcyclists than constantly stopping and starting. As with lane splitting, opponents of lane filtering believe the maneuver introduces additional elements of unpredictability and danger for everyone on the road.
The laws around lane splitting vs. filtering vary from state to state. In South Carolina, both practices are illegal. According to the law, “No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic, or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
Additionally, the law states, “The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.”
It’s important to note an exception to these laws. Police officers performing their official duties may operate their motorcycles in the manner described above.
Negligence is the key concept in an injury case. All vehicle operators owe a duty of care to their fellow drivers. If a driver breaches that duty of care through negligent action or failure to act, they may be liable for the other losses a motorcyclist suffers in a collision.
Engaging in lane splitting or lane filtering doesn’t automatically mean a motorcyclist is at fault in a collision. Because of South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence rule, a motorcyclist may still be able to secure partial compensation if the other driver’s negligence was greater.
You could be eligible for compensation if you were injured in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence. Contact The Melonakos Law Firm for personalized attention and a team that will fight for maximum recovery for you. Learn more in a free consultation.