Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience. However, it is important to understand all of the laws associated with operating a motorcycle in order to remain legal on the roadway. In the state of California, lane splitting is legal. However, New Mexico has not legalized lane splitting. Here, we want to properly define lane splitting and discuss the safety aspects associated with this practice.
What is Lane Splitting?
It is very likely that you have either heard of or actually seen motorcyclists lane splitting before. Lane splitting happens when a motorcyclist travels down the center dotted line between two lanes of traffic heading in the same direction. In other words, the motorcycle rides in between two lanes of vehicles going the same way.
Usually, lane splitting occurs when traffic is moving slowly, is congested, or has come to a standstill. Motorcyclists practice lane splitting so they can get away from this traffic congestion.
Is it Legal to Split Lanes in New Mexico?
Currently, lane splitting is not legal in New Mexico. Lane splitting is illegal in just about every state in this country except for California, where they have passed laws that allow this practice. In California, lane splitting is only allowed when surrounding traffic is moving at 30 mph or less. Even then, a motorcyclist is only allowed to go up to 10 mph faster than the traffic around them.
Is Lane Splitting Actually Safe?
At first glance, most drivers assume that lane splitting is not safe. After all, if you have never ridden a motorcycle, lane splitting would not make sense because you are actually not traveling inside of a lane, but rather in between two lanes.
Inherently, lane splitting is going to be unsafe in New Mexico because it is illegal here. Drivers in this state do not expect motorcyclists to travel down the center lane, which can lead to significant hazards. Some of the main dangers that motorcyclists face if they choose to lane split any Mexico include:
- Car doors opening into their pathway
- Vehicles changing lanes or turning unexpectedly
- Individuals sticking hands or other objects outside of vehicle windows
- Drivers getting mad and purposely move into a motorcyclist’s path
If a collision between a motor vehicle and a lane-splitting motorcyclist occurs, this can lead to severe injuries, particularly for the motorcyclist. Motorcycle riders do not have the same types of protection as those inside a reinforced motor vehicle. It is not uncommon for lane splitting to cause serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe lacerations, and road rash, broken or dislocated bones, and more.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, please reach out to our Albuquerque motorcycle accident lawyers to discuss your case.
Are There Discussions to Legalize Lane Splitting in New Mexico?
Even though more states around the country have discussed legalizing lane splitting from motorcyclists, there are currently no serious discussions within the New Mexico State legislature or any of the legislature’s committees or subcommittees. If you are a motorcyclist and feel strongly about legalizing lane splitting, we encourage you to contact your local state legislator and express your opinions.
If you’re in New Mexico and have been involved in any type of motor vehicle collision, call our accident attorneys in Albuquerque to discuss your legal options.