Is Lane Splitting Legal in CT?
Slow-moving traffic can be incredibly frustrating for Connecticut motorists. Those on motorcycles, in particular, hate getting stuck in traffic, as they appear to have plenty of space to move between cars and make progress towards their end destination. However, the legality of this practice – also known as lane splitting – is now in question. While lane splitting is currently banned for Connecticut motorcyclists, that may change in the near future.
Local legislation has been proposed to allow motorcycles to operate between traffic lanes. These pending changes have many Connecticut residents feeling confused. Many are concerned about the role lane splitting will play in future traffic cases, as well as in civil matters involving accusations of negligence. Below, we offer clarification to help keep you up to date with the state’s evolving motorcycle laws.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting occurs when motorcyclists maneuver between slowly moving or stopped traffic. Typically, this means riding along the white lines that divide lanes – hence the commonly used nickname ‘white lining.’ In some cases, drivers may weave in and out of lanes in times of traffic, only riding on white lines briefly when they deem it necessary.
Motorcycle enthusiasts appreciate this practice because it allows them to save time and avoid the hassles of long commutes that those in conventional vehicles might suffer. Still, lane splitting remains highly controversial among all types of motorists. Many suspect that it increases the potential for accidents, and can actually make traffic worse.
Why Is Lane Splitting Illegal in Connecticut?
Lane splitting in Connecticut is outlawed for many reasons. First, it is believed to be harmful to motorcyclists, who could be hurt in an instant by unexpectedly opened car doors or sudden lane changes. Motorcycle riders are especially invisible to trucks or other large vehicles carrying trailers.
Beyond personal risk, skeptics of lane splitting believe that the practice can be dangerous for everyone on the road – not just motorcycle enthusiasts. This practice can also have a huge impact on the flow of traffic. While proponents argue that lane splitting can reduce congestion, critics believe the opposite is true.
The Proposed Legislation: Senator Osten’s CT Lane Splitting Bill
Under a bill recently proposed by Senator Catherine A. Osten, motorcyclists would be allowed to operate their vehicles between lanes of traffic. Known as Senate Bill 629, this legislation would amend 14-289b.
Senator Osten’s proposal suggests that new lane splitting legislation would bring Connecticut up to date with other states. However, the practice remains illegal in most regions. Beyond this, proponents argue that the bill would speed up traffic throughout Connecticut, which suffers significant congestion during rush hour.
Currently, Senate Bill 629 offers few specific details beyond its general purpose. It has been referred to the state’s transportation committee for additional consideration.
Why Do Proponents Want Lane Splitting to Be Legal in Connecticut?
Those who believe that lane splitting is in Connecticut drivers’ best interest point to research from a 2015 UC Berkeley study. This research suggests that lane splitters are actually better motorcyclists than their non-splitting counterparts. Furthermore, lane splitters examined in the study were less likely to suffer serious injuries on the road than those who avoided the controversial practice. That being said, researchers point to safe speed differentials as key, with motorcyclists ideally traveling no more than 15 miles per hour faster than the rest of traffic.
Who Is at Fault in a Lane Splitting Accident?
Lane splitting isn’t merely a question of legality. Even if Senate Bill 629 eventually passes, the practice could continue to impact civil lawsuits. In many cases, lane splitting can be deemed negligent, leaving those who engage in this practice at risk of both accidents and ensuing personal injury cases. Because Connecticut is a ‘fault’ state, the role of negligence must be considered carefully.
The effect of comparative negligence is also worth examining, particularly if the non-splitting driver also demonstrates negligence on the road. Depending on the circumstances, the plaintiff’s personal injury compensation could be dramatically reduced based on the degree to which he or she is deemed at fault.
Regardless of legality, lane splitting is currently best avoided in Connecticut and most other states. While drivers and motorcyclists disagree as to whether the practice speeds up traffic or increases the potential for accidents, there’s little question that it can lead to legal action. When in doubt, it’s best for Connecticut motorcyclists to continue navigating the roads much like other vehicles – without white lining or weaving excessively between lanes.
Involved in an Accident? Seek Help from a Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer in CT
If you have been involved in an accident despite following all CT traffic laws, you deserve support from the best car accident attorney in CT. Luckily, McCoy & McCoy is here to help. Our legal team will guide you through the personal injury process to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about our services.