Motorcycle travel can be especially dangerous on busy, congested highways in New Jersey. In bad traffic, one can sometimes witness a motorcycle riding on the line between lanes in the same direction of traffic. This means of moving through traffic is commonly referred to as lane-splitting, and it may be disconcerting to the unsuspecting driver. However, some believe that motorcyclists avoid dangerous situations by maneuvering through traffic in this way.
According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, which “supports state laws that allow lane-splitting under reasonable restrictions,” there are potential benefits to lane-splitting. For example, motorcyclists are more conspicuous as they move relative to traffic, congestion is reduced, less idling and engine damage occur, and a reduction in overall fatigue can be experienced by motorcyclists who ride bikes with manual transmissions.
The American Motorcyclist Association cites several reports over the years, and while cautious in so doing, endorses the practice of lane-splitting. Riders, however, must be responsible in their efforts. Notwithstanding the legality of lane-splitting, it is an issue of choice, motorcyclists should exercise their discretion and avoid “violat[ing] the rules of the road.” An effort to get the practice legalized and educate the public and law enforcement, says the AMA, should be priorities.
When considering negligence as a general legal principle, it is important to recognize that most acts prohibited by law will be considered negligent. Each rider has a duty to obey the law and act as a reasonably prudent person when operating a motorcycle and may be at risk of breaching that duty and becoming liable for injuries caused, whether or not the direct cause of damage. Lane-splitting, although some studies may indicate potential benefits, ought to be considered in light of all relevant circumstances.