Is Lane Splitting Legal in SC?
When riding your motorcycle, it is often tempting to use lane splitting as a time-saving maneuver in traffic. What is lane splitting? Generally, lane splitting is driving your motorcycle between two stopped or slow-moving lanes of traffic that are both moving in the same direction. Lane splitting is illegal in some states, including South Carolina. Here, we discuss South Carolina lane-splitting laws and answer the question, Is lane splitting legal in SC?
What Is Lane Splitting?
Some states that prohibit lane splitting specifically define the practice in their highway laws. South Carolina law does not use the term “lane splitting” but states that it is illegal to “operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic, or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.” South Carolina's highway laws do not specifically answer the question, What is lane splitting? However, the statute's wording indicates that both lane splitting and the related variation “lane filtering” are illegal in SC. Lane splitting often refers to driving a motorcycle primarily on the white line dividing two lanes of traffic. Lane filtering refers to weaving between two lanes of traffic that are moving in the same direction. The simple answer to the question, Is lane splitting legal in SC? is yes. Both lane splitting and lane filtering are illegal.
Lane sharing is also common among motorcyclists. Lane sharing refers to driving two or more motorcycles side by side in the same traffic lane. South Carolina permits lane sharing by no more than two motorcyclists.
Why Use Lane Splitting?
Now that we have answered your questions about what is lane splitting, you may be wondering why motorcyclists lane split. The most obvious reason is to weave quickly through slow-moving or standstill traffic. By riding on the white line, a motorcycle operator can pass the source of the traffic jam much faster. This can be a time saver in several situations, such as when lanes of traffic converge approaching a bridge or if a particular merge point on a highway tends to cause traffic to back up.
Lane splitting and lane filtering may also have safety benefits for motorcyclists and other drivers. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) issued a statement naming several possible benefits of lane splitting such as:
- Allowing motorcyclists to avoid road hazards and intrusions into their right of way;
- Giving motorcycle drivers the freedom to occupy a position where they have the best view of the road, pedestrians, etc.;
- Allowing motorcyclists to choose a position where they are more visible to the drivers around them; and
- Providing an escape route so motorcycle drivers can avoid being rear ended.
The MSF statement calls for further study on the safety benefits of lane splitting.
There is some evidence that lane splitting keeps motorcycle drivers safer on the road. A University of California Berkeley study found that riders who used lane splitting were less likely to suffer head and torso injuries and fatal injuries in the event of a crash. However, the study did not provide data about whether lane splitting decreases a motorcyclist’s odds of getting in an accident.
Why Is Lane Splitting Illegal?
While lane splitting may help keep motorcycle operators safer, it can also be dangerous. One of the primary risks involved in lane splitting is that people driving cars may not expect a motorcyclist to be between the lanes. Therefore, drivers may be less likely to notice or look for motorcycles when merging or making other maneuvers. While lane splitting is risky, many motorcyclists do it because it helps them feel safer when riding in traffic. Motorcyclists may also feel that the time-saving benefits outweigh the risks. As a result, many motorcycle accident personal injury cases involve lane splitting.
How Will Lane Splitting Impact My Personal Injury Case?
Although lane splitting is illegal in South Carolina, you may still be able to recover compensation if another driver injured you while you were lane splitting. South Carolina uses a modified comparative fault standard in personal injury cases involving negligence. If you can prove that your lane splitting accident was less than 50% your fault, you can still recover against the driver or other individual who caused your injuries. A court will simply reduce your damages in proportion to your level of fault for the accident. You can still recover damages if you were injured while lane splitting even though lane splitting is legal in SC.
Establishing that you were driving safely will help to minimize the amount of fault attributed to you. Minimizing your fault can increase your recovery. An attorney can also help you prove that you were driving at a safe speed and were paying attention to your surroundings on the road while lane splitting. In addition, if you can prove that the other driver made negligent driving decisions such as merging without using their turn signal or texting and driving, you may be able to establish that they are more than 50% responsible for your injuries.
A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you establish that the other driver is responsible for the majority of the fault in your accident. Peace Law Firm has years of experience handling South Carolina personal injury cases, including motorcycle accident cases. Peace will passionately advocate to help you get the compensation you deserve after your motorcycle accident.