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Will Lane-Splitting Improve Motorcycle Safety in Arizona?

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ABC15 reports two bills have been introduced in the Arizona legislature this year that would legalize motorcycle lane sharing.

One measure would require lane-splitting riders to wear a helmet, while the other would not. A measure that died last year without becoming law would have required helmets for all riders. Arizona's helmet law currently requires helmets for riders under age 18.

This year, Arizona is one of many states to consider legalizing lane-splitting. If this happens, Arizona would join California as the only other state to legalize riders sharing lanes with passenger vehicles. This consideration by state legislators is nothing new. In 2010, a bill that would allow a one-year lane-splitting pilot program was passed in Arizona. However, it was vetoed by then-Gov. Jan Brewer, who cited safety concerns regarding the bill.

Arizona motorcycle accident attorneys continue to see an increasing number of serious and fatal riding accidents.

Lane-Sharing/Lane-Splitting Dangerous?

Safety advocates continue to look at safer options for riders as the number of motorcycles and the number of serious and fatal riding accidents has climbed steadily in recent years.

While riding is a life-long learning process, Motorcycle.com recently published a total of eight essential riding tips for novice and experienced riders alike:

  • Proper clutch control: Managing the clutch can avoid jerky movements, rear-end collisions and failed emergency stops.
  • Throttle control: Riding with your wrist in a down position can prevent uncontrolled acceleration. It also puts your hand in proper position to apply front brake with the throttle closed.
  • Basic braking: Most collisions occur because of improper braking. Learning proper braking techniques is a critical skill for all riders.
  • Counter steering: Learning to use bodyweight and handlebars for proper steering is another critical skill. A bike's balance will change with the addition of a passenger.
  • Downshifting: This is critical for proper slowing and braking and can make the process easier.
  • Situational Awareness: Watching the road ahead maximizes reaction time.
  • Line Selection: Learning proper line selection through corners can keep you safe and out of the way of oncoming traffic.
  • Advanced braking: Don't wait for an emergency to learn emergency braking.

While lane-splitting is currently legal in California, police urge motorcyclists not to engage in it, especially when traffic is traveling at 30 miles per hour or more. Motorcyclists must not travel more than 10 miles per hour faster than other traffic. Last year, The Malibu Times reported that lane-splitting may have been the culprit behind an upsurge of motorcycle accidents. These accidents don't often occur due to any fault of motorcyclists. They often happen because motorists haven't yet adjusted to the new, legal risk on California roadways.

Motorists can have a significant impact when it comes to keeping riders safe. Even accidents at slow speeds or in parking lots typically lead to very serious or fatal injuries to riders. Nobody wants to be responsible for a tragedy. Treating riders as if they have the right-of-way can save lives and will reduce your liability in the event of a collision.

Motorists are most often at fault for failing to yield the right of way by turning left into the path of an oncoming rider. A motorcycle's small size makes it closer than it appears and makes speed difficult to judge. Waiting for a rider to pass is a simple way to avoid a collision. These scenarios also often play out when a rider is entering or existing traffic and is struck despite having the right of way.

Looking twice can help save a life as the spring and summer riding season gets underway. In the event of a crash, contact an experienced motorcycle attorney at Israel & Gerity, PLLC.

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