Motorcycle Lane-Splitting is Illegal in South Carolina
One benefit of driving a motorcycle is that the vehicle will fit into small areas. A motorcycle’s small size makes it easier to maneuver一and tempting to drive between or alongside other vehicles on the road.
South Carolina law prohibits motorcyclists from “lane-splitting” or squeezing their bikes alongside other vehicles in the same lane. Yet the law allows “lane-sharing” with another motorcycle. Here’s what South Carolina motorists need to know.
Lane-Splitting Isn’t Legal in South Carolina
Lane-splitting occurs when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of traffic. To do this, a motorcyclist may drive on the lines that separate vehicle lanes一and the cars in those lanes. Lane-splitting is also called “white-lining” or “stripe-riding” for this reason. When a motorcycle passes another vehicle on the shoulder of the road, this practice may be called “shoulder-surfing.”
A bike that is lane-splitting may drive on the line between their lane and oncoming traffic or on a line that separates two lanes going in the same direction. Both types of lane splitting are prohibited in South Carolina.
SC Code 56-5-3640 states, “…no person shall operate a motor vehicle between lanes of traffic, or between adjacent lanes or rows of vehicles.” Motorcyclists who do so may receive a citation.
Section 56-5-3640 also states that motorcyclists may not pass vehicles “…in the same lane.” To pass, a motorcyclist must use the adjacent lane in the same manner as any other vehicle一including passing only when it is safe to do so. Passing a vehicle in the same lane may also result in a citation.
Accidents Resulting from Lane-Splitting
Should lane-splitting remain illegal? Studies of driver and motorcyclist behavior indicate that most drivers think motorcyclists should not be allowed to split lanes. In one California survey, 77 percent of surveyed drivers said they thought lane-splitting was unsafe. Twenty percent said they feared the motorcyclist would crash, while 13 percent thought a lane-splitting motorcycle might cause them to crash.
When an accident occurs while a motorcyclist is lane-splitting, insurance companies and others involved in the crash will probably argue that the motorcyclist is at fault. They may point to police reports or citations showing that the motorcyclist was violating South Carolina’s lane-splitting law when the crash happened.
According to Expertise, motorcyclists are required to carry at least liability insurance for uninsured motorists, property damage, and bodily injury. However, this amount may not be enough to cover all expenses related to the accident. It’s best to seek medical help for injuries and to speak with an attorney about the next best steps to take after a car-motorcycle wreck.
Lane-Splitting Vs. Lane-Sharing
South Carolina law prohibits lane-splitting, but it allows lane-sharing. The difference is an important one. Lane-splitting involves riding on or near the lane line to share lane space with another vehicle while traveling or passing. In lane-sharing, however, two motorcyclists ride inside the lane alongside one another or with one motorcyclist slightly behind the other.
Section 56-5-3640 allows motorcycles to ride “…two abreast in a single lane.” This form of lane sharing is not considered illegal lane-splitting. Motorcycles that share a lane must be given the entire use of the lane space by other vehicles, just as a single motorcyclist would.
If you’ve been injured in a car or motorcycle accident, talk to an experienced South Carolina injury attorney today. The team at the Steinberg Law Firm is here to help. We offer free consultations and no fee unless we collect financial compensation for you.