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Motorcycle Lane Splitting Laws in New York

Posted on 03/03/22

Motorcycles are a common choice for getting around New York. They are light, fast, and easy to maneuver on some of New York’s busiest streets. As most of the U.S., New York continues to prohibit the practice known as lane-splitting – the riding of a motorcycle between two lanes of same-direction traffic. Learn more about these state laws to protect your rights as a motorcyclist – especially after a harmful motorcycle crash, and how a Buffalo motorcycle accident lawyer can help your case. 

What Is Motorcycle Lane Splitting?

Motorcycle lane splitting refers to a motorcycle traveling between two lanes of traffic that are moving in the same direction; the motorcyclist rides on the line between the lanes rather than keeping entirely to one lane. It is a practice that a motorcyclist may wish to use to save time by bypassing lanes of stopped traffic. It is also viewed as a safety technique for motorcyclists, as it can protect them from harmful rear-end collisions.

Is Motorcycle Lane Splitting Legal in New York?

Lane splitting is currently against the law in New York. Chapter 11 of the New York Driver’s Manual states that motorcyclists have the same responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. They must follow the same traffic laws, including current lane-keeping laws. State law requires all motor vehicles, including motorcycles, to remain solely in one lane unless passing or turning. While motorcyclists can ride two abreast with one another, they cannot share a lane with a passenger car.

Motorcyclists in New York may only use one lane at a time on a road or highway divided into two or more lanes of same-direction traffic. They cannot ride on the line between lanes, no matter how fast or slow the surrounding traffic is traveling. If the action is done to avoid being hit by a motor vehicle, however, such as if a car is merging on top of a motorcyclist, lane-splitting is permissible and may not be used as proof of the motorcyclist’s liability for a resultant accident.

Who Is Responsible for a Crash Caused by Motorcycle Lane Splitting?

New York is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that after a car accident in Buffalo or around New York, injured drivers seek recoveries from their own insurance providers, regardless of who caused the crash. The no-fault law does not apply to motorcyclists, however. Under Article 51 of the New York State Insurance Law, motorcyclists and their passengers are excluded from no-fault insurance coverage. Therefore, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident in Buffalo, you can file a claim for compensation against the at-fault driver even for minor injuries.

Fault and liability can be difficult to determine in a motorcycle accident involving lane splitting, however. These accidents are often caused by the negligence of a motor vehicle driver, such as unsafe passing, unsafe lane changes, inattention, blind spots, sideswiping or reckless driving. Even if a motorcyclist is found partially liable for the wreck for riding on the line between two lanes at the time of the crash, he or she may still be eligible for financial compensation for the driver’s role in causing the crash.

New York’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law

A crash where both the defendant and the plaintiff share fault falls under the rules of New York’s pure comparative fault law. This law states that even if one party is 99 percent at fault for an accident, he or she can still recover compensation. The amount awarded will be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. If an injured motorcyclist is found partially to blame, therefore, this law means that financial compensation is still available.

It is important to contact a Buffalo injury attorney as soon as possible after a motorcycle accident in Buffalo that involves lane splitting or an allegation thereof. You may be eligible for compensation even if the driver’s insurance company tries to deny benefits. If an insurer attempts to reject your claim based on lane splitting, an attorney can help you deny liability and establish the driver’s fault. A lawyer will fight for fair compensation on your behalf despite complications connected to New York’s lane-splitting laws.