Is Lane Splitting Legal in Georgia?
Riding a motorcycle is something many people in Georgia do regularly, and it can be a great way to experience a certain freedom on the roadways. Most riders enjoy the maneuverability that a motorcycle gives them. However, there are times when some motorcyclists engage in what is called lane splitting, an activity that sees the rider maneuvering in and out of traffic, and usually right down the middle of two lanes of cars.
Have you ever been in traffic and seen a motorcycle riding in between your lane and the lane of traffic beside you like there is an invisible smaller lane there somewhere? If you have, then you have seen lane splitting.
You probably wondered if that is a legal practice. No, it is not. Lane splitting is not legal on Georgia roadways and motorcyclists who practice it could end up with hefty fines. Worse, they could end up in a serious accident that causes them harm or harm to others on the roadway around them.
We do have motorcyclists from all over the country in Georgia, and it is important to note that not all state laws are the same regarding lane splitting.
Some of the most common causes of accidents that occur when a motorcyclist is lane sharing include:
- When a vehicle changes lanes and sideswipes the motorcyclist or causes the motorcyclist to rear-end them.
- When a vehicle driver opens their car door. This can include intentional actions on the car driver’s part.
- When the motorcyclist needs to change lanes to leave the roadway but cannot find an adequate opening.
How often do motorcycle accidents occur in Georgia?
In most cases, if an accident occurs while a motorcyclist is lane splitting, the motorcyclist will be at fault for any damages and injuries that occur. While we do not know exactly how many motorcycle accidents were caused by lane splitting, we do know that there were more than 5,000 motorcycle crash fatalities in the US during the latest reporting year. In Georgia, there were 172 total motorcyclist fatalities during that same year. Many thousands more are injured and left suffering from their injuries.
Motorcyclists are at higher risk of sustaining injuries in a motor vehicle accident than those in a regular passenger vehicle. Even when a cyclist is wearing a helmet, they often sustain the following in a crash:
- Broken and dislocated bones
- Severe lacerations
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal cord injuries
- Whiplash injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Severe road rash
Is the motorcyclist always at fault for lane splitting?
There are instances when the motorcyclist may not be at fault for lane splitting. For example, if a vehicle changes lanes suddenly and without signaling and a motorcyclist had to travel quickly in between two lanes of traffic to avoid the crash, the driver who changed lanes illegally may be considered the at-fault driver.
What about lane sharing?
Another practice that is popular with motorcyclists is called lane sharing. This means that motorcyclists ride side-by-side in one lane of traffic. Lane sharing is legal in Georgia, but only two motorcycles are allowed to ride side-by-side in a single lane. Motorcyclists need to know that lane sharing and lane splitting are not the same things. Lane sharing can also come with risks, particularly if the two motorcyclists perform opposing actions that confuse the drivers around them.