Is Lane Splitting Legal in Georgia?
If you have been on a busy street and seen smaller vehicles, such as motorcycles, passing through the traffic, you may wonder if this is legal. While motorcycles may be tempted to make their way around the traffic by fitting between the cars or lanes, motorcyclists must be aware of the laws and what is allowed in the state that they are driving in. In this article, the motorcycle accident lawyer at Spaulding Injury Law will go over lane splitting and answer whether it is legal in Georgia.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is when a motorcycle, bicycle, moped, or other small vehicle passes other vehicles by going into the area between the lanes. While any type of smaller vehicle may help lane split, motorcyclists are the most common driver to be seen doing this.
Motorcycle drivers who participate in lane splitting may do this regardless of if the lanes are going in the opposite or same directions. Some motorcyclists believe that there is an imaginary temporary lane between the two lanes of traffic, which leads to lane splitting.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in the State of Georgia?
According to Code O.C.G.A. § 40-6-312, lane splitting is illegal in Georgia. It is illegal throughout most of the United States. In 2017, California passed a law permitting lane splitting, making it the only state allowing motorcyclists to split lanes. Many Californians find it convenient as motorcyclists and moped drivers can go around the traffic during rush hours if need be, but Georgians are still hesitant about the practice. The reason for this is that many people find it to be dangerous for drivers and motorcyclists.
Is Lane Splitting Considered to be Safe or Dangerous?
Some motorcycle safety advocates believe that lane splitting helps motorcyclists avoid accidents. They also believe that allowing lane splitting will lead to fewer accidents involving motorcycle drivers. The following are a few of the positive benefits that advocates believe lane splitting provides:
- Motorcyclists can make their way out of the traffic
- Motorcyclists can get out of inclement weather quicker and easier
- Motorcyclists are less likely to be involved in a rear-end accident
On the other hand, most of the public believes that allowing lane splitting will cause roads to become less safe for motorcycle drivers. Here are a few of the negatives that the public believes lane splitting will lead to:
- More accidents will occur because drivers may not see motorcyclists passing or may feel startled when they do pass them
- The likelihood of accidents may increase if they accidentally hit a motorcyclist when merging, passing, or switching lanes
- Motorcyclists could get hit by car doors opening if they are not seen in time
While both sides have good points, there is not enough data on whether lane splitting would provide more benefits or negatives. Since it remains illegal in 49 states, there is not much experience with this driving technique for motorcyclists. For now, it is recommended that motorcycle drivers not participate in lane splitting outside of California unless there is an emergency where they feel it is essential.
What Is Lane Filtering?
Lane filtering is similar to lane splitting. However, there is one huge difference. In lane filtering, motorcyclists can move around the traffic and share lanes with other vehicles if the traffic in both lanes is moving in the same direction and all vehicles nearby are stopped. The motorcyclist must pass slowly and drive carefully when participating in lane filtering.
Lane filtering is common at a red light as it allows the motorcyclist to cut in line to be one of the first ones to go when the light turns green.
Is Lane Filtering Legal in the State of Georgia?
Even though more states are open to lane filtering, it remains illegal in Georgia. There are currently five states that allow lane filtering: Utah, Arizona, Montana, California, and Hawaii. Drivers who participate in lane filtering in these states can only do so under certain conditions and must do so with caution.
Key Differences Between Lane Filtering and Lane Splitting
While it is common for individuals to get lane filtering and splitting mixed up, there are key differences between the two terms. The following are the differences:
- Lane splitting: Lane splitting typically occurs when there is moving traffic and can be done no matter if the two lanes are going in the same direction or in different directions.
- Lane filtering: Lane filtering usually takes place at intersections or stop lights. Traffic is slowing down or stopping when lane filtering is allowed. Traffic in both lanes must go in one direction to participate in lane filtering.
While both terms are used interchangeably, it is important to recognize that they occur during different traffic speeds and circumstances.
What Happens If You Are Given a Ticket for Lane Splitting in the State of Georgia?
If you participate in lane splitting in the state of Georgia and are caught by law enforcement, there is a very good chance that you will be given a ticket. A lot of motorcyclists believe that it will be overlooked and that they have not done anything wrong, but it is considered a traffic offense and you will most likely be required to pay a fine. Sometimes, Georgian motorcycle drivers who are caught lane splitting will also receive points on their driver’s licenses.
The fine for lane splitting between Georgia is around $130, but the exact amount you will need to pay depends on the county that issues the ticket. Since lane splitting is considered a moving violation in Georgia, the number of points you may receive on your driver’s license is three.
What Happens If You Are Involved in a Lane Splitting Car Accident?
According to the National Safety Council Injury Facts, accidents involving motorcycles made up 14 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2020, and motorcycle accidents increased by 11 percent from 2019 to 2020.
Whether you are the motorcycle driver or the other vehicle driver, when a motorcycle is lane splitting, and an accident occurs, the motorcyclist will most likely be held liable for the car accident. Therefore, if there are bodily injuries or damage to the vehicle, the motorcyclist participating in lane splitting will be responsible for paying for the injuries and damages.
The only time that a motorcyclist may not be found at fault is if there was a circumstance where they needed to or felt forced to split lanes. An example of when this may be possible is if another driver is driving recklessly, such as swerving in the lanes, braking suddenly, or merging without providing a proper signal.
Is It Possible to Recover Damages After Being Involved in a Lane Splitting Accident in Georgia?
Because lane splitting is illegal in Georgia, motorcyclists may believe that if they were lane splitting and an accident occurred, they would be unable to get compensation. However, this is not always true. If you have injuries or damage to your property, you may be able to file a claim to recover compensation.
To successfully do this, you will need to show proof that the other driver was more negligent during the accident than you were. This can be difficult as you participate in illegal activity on the road, but it is not impossible.
Keep in mind that if you are found to be more liable, you will be required to pay for your injuries and damages as well as theirs.
Other Driving Maneuvers Not Allowed in Georgia
While motorcyclists need to know that lane splitting is not allowed in Georgia, several other maneuvers are prohibited by any type of driver. Here are a few:
- Texting and driving
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving over the posted speed limits
- Going around an emergency vehicle
- Passing a school bus that signals a stop
- Not following traffic signs and lights
- Failing to merge or switch lanes without a signal
While these maneuvers are prohibited in Georgia, keep in mind that seeking compensation will depend on your portion of the fault in the accident. A motorcycle accident attorney from Spaulding Injury Law will be able to investigate the accident that left you injured and help you fight for compensation.
Have You Been Involved in a Lane Splitting Accident? The Car Accident Attorneys at Spaulding Injury Law Can Assist You.
Spaulding Injury Law is here to help you if you have recently been involved in a lane-splitting accident. We are experienced, trained, and knowledgeable regarding the laws surrounding motorcyclists and motor vehicles. We will do everything we can to ensure your story is heard.
Our team understands that every case is unique and different. Therefore, we would be glad to listen to the details of your case. Afterward, we will investigate the crash, document your losses and injuries, and build a strong case against the defendant. Please fill out this contact form, or call our office to get started on the process, and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.