One of the advantages of riding a motorcycle is the possibility of fitting your vehicle into smaller spaces than any car, truck, or SUV. Many riders use it to their advantage on Louisiana roads with techniques such as lane splitting or filtering, allowing them to keep moving when other cars have stopped.
While this practice is legal in other states, you may wonder if it’s safe or legal in the streets of Baton Rouge. It is not a legal maneuver in Baton Rouge. Read further to better understand Louisiana laws regarding lane splitting and why you should avoid the maneuver to help you stay safe when riding.
Lane filtering and splitting are similar techniques motorcycle riders often use to move through slow or stopped traffic.
Lane splitting refers to riding a motorcycle between lanes moving in the same direction, typically at about the same speed as the flow of traffic. For instance, a motorcyclist riding at 30 mph between cars moving at 25 mph is lane splitting.
Lane filtering is when a motorcycle rider moves between lanes to reach the front of a group of vehicles in slow-moving or stopped traffic. Motorcyclists often resort to lane filtering to move to the front of the pack at intersections.
As we mention above, lane splitting and lane filtering are considered illegal driving maneuvers in Baton Rouge. Under Louisiana RS 32:191.1, no person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or adjacent rows of vehicles.
Unlike in other states such as California or Utah, the law does not differentiate between lane splitting or filtering. The wording of this statute effectively makes both techniques unlawful in the entire state, including in Baton Rouge.
Local laws in Baton Rouge contain similar wording. According to Section 11:242(c) of the Baton Rouge Code of Ordinances, it is unlawful for riders to operate their motorcycle between lanes of traffic or adjacent lines of vehicles. As with state law, no definition or distinction is made between lane splitting or filtering; both are considered unlawful.
Many motorcyclists commit lane splitting or lane filtering to keep moving through traffic, particularly during traffic jams. However, doing that is not only illegal in Baton Rouge and Louisiana; it is also unsafe.
The latest NHTSA statistics show that, under normal conditions, a motorcyclist is already 24 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than those in other vehicles. Lane splitting and lane filtering can increase the risk of being injured or killed by another road user, particularly cars, trucks, and big rigs. This is due to the following:
- Sudden door openings. While lane splitting and lane filtering can help you keep moving between stopped traffic, it also exposes you to the risk of dooring. Even at lower speeds, hitting another vehicle’s door can lead to broken bones, bruising, and disfigurement.
- Blind spots. Although the small size of a motorcycle allows riding between lanes, it also heightens the risk of being in another road user’s blind spot. Drivers may start turning or attempting to change lanes at any moment. If they cannot see you, it can lead to an accident resulting in serious injuries.
- Limited space. The amount of space between your motorcycle and other vehicles can change suddenly. Even if you initially had enough space to fit your motorcycle between cars, other vehicles ahead may be closer than expected. This can put you at risk of hitting side mirrors or side-swiping them, causing injury to you or your motorcycle.
As a motorcycle rider, you face a greater risk of injury or death than other road users, and even a low-speed incident can result in severe damages. If a reckless or negligent driver hits or injures you, speak with our Baton Rouge motorcycle injury lawyers at Dudley DeBosier as soon as possible.
We will review your case to determine negligence and help you navigate the insurance claims process. With our experience and commitment to standing up for motorcycle riders’ rights, we can help you understand your legal options after a crash.
Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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