Safely riding your motorcycle means following the rules of the road at all times, including some laws that may pertain specifically to motorcycles. Motorcycle riders, for example, need to know what states, including Nevada, require them to wear a helmet, or when they can legally drive a motorcycle. Lane splitting can lead to significant danger for the motorcycle rider–but can you legally perform that action?
What is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting means riding your motorcycle between two lanes of traffic, effectively “splitting” the lane and creating your own space. Lane splitting is extremely dangerous, especially if the two lanes of traffic move at any time.
Some motorcycle riders will try to split lanes in traffic jams or tight traffic. Motorcycles often fit into smaller spaces than traditional passenger vehicles, which means they can easily slip between those lanes during a traffic jam. When other traffic cannot move at all, motorcycles may be able to slip between the two lanes of traffic and get out of the traffic jam, which can speed up the flow of traffic for everyone.
That does not mean, however, that lane splitting is safe. Lane splitting means that the motorcycle is traveling through a very small space. If a vehicle, especially a large vehicle, moves at any time, it can sideswipe the motorcycle before the driver ever recognizes the presence of the motorcycle rider. Motorcycle riders may also need to complete tighter maneuvers when they split lanes than if they simply take up a lane of traffic on their own.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Nevada?
Lane splitting is not legal in Nevada. In fact, while lane splitting is legal in some parts of Europe and Asia, in the United States, only California has legalized lane splitting.
As a motorcycle rider, that means you need to remain stationary when traffic is stuck, even if you feel that you can slip through the lanes and reach your destination. You should not try to navigate your way around traffic or ignore existing traffic while trying to reach your destination.
Nevada law does, however, allow for two motorcycles to share the same lane, as long as both of you consent. For large groups of motorcycles traveling together, this can help increase the odds that you will make it safely through red lights together and that other drivers will not try to cut between the members of your group.
The prohibition on lane splitting does not just prevent motorcycle riders from using the space between two lanes of traffic to get closer to their destination. It also prevents other vehicles from trying to press into your lane, either because of distracted driving behaviors or because those drivers want to try to get around other cars by “sharing” your lane. Drivers of passenger vehicles that try to push into your lane may face the same consequences as motorcycle riders who try to split lanes.
The Potential Consequences of Lane Splitting in Nevada
Nevada law prohibits lane splitting, but some motorcycle riders may consider it too tempting to avoid completely. If you do get caught lane splitting, what consequences can you face?
Fines for lane splitting may start at $190 in Nevada. However, those fines may increase with multiple offenses. If you accumulate too many tickets, you may also lose your motorcycle license or even your driver’s license. Drivers of passenger vehicles who try to move into a motorcycle’s lane may face similar penalties.
Will Nevada Later Legalize Lane Splitting?
In 2013, Nevada proposed legislation that would legalize lane splitting. This resolution, however, did not pass, which means that motorcycle riders must continue to use a full lane of traffic to pass other vehicles–and that other vehicles must continue to use a full lane of traffic to pass motorcycles on the road. It seems unlikely that legalized lane splitting will soon pass in Nevada. While some motorcycle riders may find lane splitting worth the risk, Nevada continues to protect its riders through this legislation.
Who Bears Liability in a Lane Splitting Accident?
Since lane splitting is not legal in Nevada, if a lane splitting driver causes an accident, that driver may bear liability for the accident. Other drivers may not watch for lane splitters, since they know it is not legal. A motorcycle can fit easily into a car’s blind spot, which means that the other driver may never notice the presence of a motorcycle as it slips up between the two cars. Lane splitting at high rates of speed can significantly increase the risk of an accident, since drivers may not have time to note the motorcycle’s presence.
Sometimes, the driver of the other vehicle may try to split lanes or move into the motorcycle’s lane. Some distracted drivers, especially those distracted by cell phone use, may drift into the motorcycle’s lane or assume that the lane is empty. Others may try to pass another vehicle by utilizing the extra space in a motorcycle’s lane, rather than waiting for a full lane of traffic to make passing safer. If the driver of the passenger vehicle attempts to split lanes, that driver may bear liability for the accident.
In other cases, you may dispute liability for a lane splitting accident based on the behaviors of the other driver. For example, if the driver committed a behavior more dangerous than lane splitting, or deliberately attempted to ram the vehicle that split lanes, that driver may share liability or even bear full liability for the accident. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you better determine who may bear liability for a specific lane splitting accident.
While lane splitting remains illegal in Nevada, some drivers and motorcycle riders still choose to engage in those dangerous behaviors. If you suffer a serious accident due to lane splitting, an attorney can help you understand your right to compensation. Contact Gina Corena & Associates today to learn more about your right to compensation following a lane splitting accident.