What is Motorcycle Lane Splitting? Lane splitting occurs when motorcycles weave across different traffic lanes that are driving in the same direction. Lane filtering occurs when motorcycles continue to move during stopped traffic.
You’ve probably seen Indianapolis motorcyclists splitting lanes during peak traffic hours on major highways, such as I-65 or I-69. While the temptation is understandable, they should avoid lane splitting because it is against the law in Indiana. Lane splitting is only illegal when motorcycles are sharing a lane with cars or trucks. They can ride next to no more than one other motorcycle with the other rider’s consent.
Indiana Lane Splitting Laws for Motorcycle Riders
Many motorcyclists wonder, “Is lane splitting legal in Indiana?” It may be convenient, but the answer is no.
According to World Population Review, 40 states have banned lane splitting. Indiana is one of them.
The lane-splitting law in Ind. Code § 9-21-10-6 was written to reduce the risks of accidents involving motorcycles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 5,932 motorcyclists died in traffic accidents in 2021 alone. Some research indicates that lane splitting can increase the risk of motorcycle accidents. For example, a 2020 French study from the Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility and Planning (CEREMA) showed that jurisdictions that legalized lane splitting had 12% more accidents. Therefore, Indiana and most other states have banned lane splitting to minimize casualties.
Some Indiana residents have sought to legalize lane splitting. In 2016, Michael Andersen submitted a Change.org petition to Sen. Jim Smith, asking to allow lane filtering in Indiana. However, the petition only received 37 signatures, so the law stayed in place.
Why Do Motorcyclists Lane Split?
The exact percentage of motorcycles that lane-split is not known. However, anecdotal observations suggest that it is quite common. There are several reasons people that ride motorcycles do so:
- Lane splitting helps motorcyclists travel more quickly. Everybody wants to avoid getting stuck in traffic longer than they need to be. Motorcycles are no exception, so they may lane-split to reach their destinations more quickly. Motorcyclists can easily fit between large vehicles since motorcycles are smaller and easier to maneuver than cars or trucks. This means that they can keep driving while other vehicles on the road are stopped. Lane splitting can help motorcyclists travel more quickly through congested traffic, so they can reach their destinations faster.
- Some motorcyclists incorrectly believe that lane splitting is safer. One of the biggest concerns that most motorcyclists have is being rear-ended by a car. When traffic is congested, they may believe that they can reduce the risk of a rear-end collision by lane splitting, so they can reach their destination before traffic starts moving faster.
- Lane splitting helps keep motorcycle engines cool. Motorcycles use air-cooling systems to keep their engines from overheating. Unfortunately, these systems don’t work as efficiently when airflow is limited. This can increase the risk that the engine will overheat. Lane splitting allows the motorcycle’s engine to stay cooler by allowing air to flow around it.
- Lane splitting can help improve fuel efficiency. Motorcycles can burn a lot of gas sitting in traffic, especially in congested places such as I-65 during rush hour. Lane splitting can help improve fuel efficiency by minimizing the time they spend idling in traffic.
- Some motorcyclists believe that lane splitting can improve visibility. Some motorcyclists believe that lane splitting can make it easier for other drivers to see them since they are positioned between lanes instead of being hidden behind larger vehicles. In actuality, they may spend more time in other drivers’ blind spots. However, they may engage in lane splitting because they perceive it to increase visibility.
Why Lane Splitting Is So Dangerous
Riders can split lanes to avoid traffic delays. As stated above, some motorcyclists believe that lane splitting is safer because it allows them to zip around cars and potentially avoid being rear-ended.
However, the risks of lane splitting outweigh the drawbacks. Motorcyclists who split lanes are at risk if bigger vehicles’ drivers unexpectedly change lanes and don’t see bikers. They may also be injured if they hit side-view mirrors, and they could be seriously injured if they inadvertently clip one. Additionally, children and dogs sticking their heads out of cars create obstacles for lane-splitting motorcyclists.
Some motorcyclists ride too fast, regardless of traffic conditions. This behavior continues when they split lanes, putting everyone at risk. That’s why most states, including Indiana, ban lane splitting.
Another concern with lane splitting is that it can adversely affect the motorcyclist’s insurance claims if they are in an accident. Engaging in lane splitting in Indiana or any other state where it is illegal is seen as negligent behavior. This means that a motorcycle or bike rider may be unable to make an injury claim in some cases. If a lane-splitting motorcycle rider causes a crash, drivers in another vehicle can claim their damages against the motorcyclist or bicyclist. They can use the illegal lane splitting as evidence of negligence and hold the motorcyclist responsible for their losses.
How an Experienced Indianapolis Motorcycle Lawyer Can Help After an Accident
You should always consult with an experienced Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer if you are involved in a motorcycle accident. A good attorney can significantly improve your chances of winning a personal injury case, whether you were involved in lane splitting or not. Here are some ways that a lawyer can help.
Objectively Reviewing the Evidence
The first thing that your lawyer will do is carefully review all of the physical evidence. If the accident is serious, first responders will probably take photos of the scene. These photos can be the most compelling evidence in a courtroom. As long as there isn’t any evidence that indicates either of the vehicles was moved after the accident, these photos can often conclusively prove which driver struck the other. Although this does not prove that one driver was entirely at fault, it usually goes a long way toward proving the case.
Your lawyer will also pay close attention to witness statements. Witness testimonials are not entirely reliable. However, they can have a positive or negative impact on your case. Your defense attorney can carefully interview the witnesses to determine whether they are going to help your case or not. They can also find ways to impeach the credibility of witnesses that may harm your case.
Personal injury lawyers may also look at tire treads. Tire tread evidence can be crucial in personal injury cases to determine factors like how fast each vehicle was driving and whether they tried to avoid an accident by braking. Your lawyer can use tire tread evidence to help determine whether a vehicle was operated negligently or if road conditions played a role in an accident. Matching tire tread patterns to those found at the accident scene can provide valuable information about the sequence of events.
In some circumstances, lawyers can look at blood alcohol level reports if one or both drivers were suspected of driving while intoxicated. They may be able to find an interpretation of these reports that demonstrates you were not the party at fault. For example, the other driver may have a test that shows their blood alcohol levels were below the legal limit. However, your lawyer may argue that there was a delay between when the accident occurred and when the test was performed, which means that the other driver was intoxicated at the time the accident took place.
Getting the Case Dropped (If You Are the Defendant)
If you are the defendant in a personal injury case, your ideal outcome is to have the case dropped before it goes to trial. You will potentially save thousands of dollars on legal fees and even more money if the plaintiff wins their case against you in court.
There are two ways that your lawyer could get the case against you dropped:
- They could convince the other party that they have a very low chance of winning, so they may drop the case.
- They can convince the judge that the other party cannot possibly meet the preponderance of evidence standard in a civil liability case.
Your lawyer’s ability to get the case dropped will depend on their ability to collect evidence in your favor and present it in a way that convinces the judge or other party to drop the case.
Arranging a Settlement Between Both Parties
Only around 4% of all personal injury cases go to trial. One of the reasons that so few cases go to trial is that the parties reach an agreement before the trial takes place.
Whether you are the defendant or the plaintiff, your lawyer can work out a settlement that is in your best interest. They may help you get as much compensation as possible if you are suing the other party and entitled to compensation. If you are the defendant in the case, your lawyer may arrange a deal that minimizes the amount of compensation you must pay the other driver.
A good Indianapolis lawyer will build a strong case in your favor before going to trial. They will try to convince the other party that they have a low chance of winning their case, so they should settle.
Representing You at Trial
In some situations, the case will not be dropped and the plaintiff and defendant are unable to reach a verdict. In these cases, the two parties will have to go to trial.
If you have to go to trial, having a good personal injury attorney is going to be extremely important. They can help your case in the following ways:
- Your lawyer can develop a sound legal strategy to convince the jury and judge to rule in your favor.
- They can select the right jurors during voir dire. Many cases are won or lost during jury selection. Your lawyer can significantly improve your likelihood of winning the case if they know which jurors are likely to side with you.
- They can try to get certain evidence excluded that may harm your case. Opinion-based evidence and hearsay are usually inadmissible in personal injury cases. Some evidence may also be inadmissible if your lawyer can show it is unreliable or illegally obtained. For example, your lawyer may argue that breathalyzer results showing you were intoxicated (and therefore at fault) may be excluded if the correct procedures were not followed when it was administered.
- Your lawyer will know what questions to ask witnesses to support your case. They can try to impeach the testimony of witnesses by questioning their credibility or otherwise disputing the reliability of their testimony.
- Your lawyer can help coach you on how to be more presentable and favorable to the judge and jury. Decisions are not only going to come down to the evidence of the case. They are going to take your appearance and demeanor into consideration, so it is important to have an experienced lawyer teach you how to make a good impression.
It is very important to have a good lawyer at your side when you are at trial.
Contact SLG Accident Attorneys Today!
Are you the plaintiff or defendant in a personal injury case involving lane splitting? You will need an experienced attorney to help you through the process.
SLG Accident Attorneys is a team of highly qualified and dedicated lawyers that will help you with your case. We have worked extensively with Indiana motorcyclists dealing with complex personal injury cases. Our attorneys are committed to helping win your case and getting the best settlement. Give us a call if you need representation. We look forward to assisting you!