Motorcyclists often wonder if lane splitting is legal in Nova Scotia. The short answer is no–lane splitting is illegal in Nova Scotia. Read on to learn more about lane splitting, why it’s illegal, and what the ramifications are for someone who’s in an accident while lane splitting.

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is a maneuver done on roads with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction. There may be two cars next to each other in adjacent lanes.

A motorcycle comes up from behind and wants to pass both cars, but there isn’t an available passing lane. So the motorcyclist travels between the two cars, which leads to the term “lane splitting. Many motorcyclists would like to have this option, as they feel their bike is small enough to safely go between the two adjacent vehicles and make better time to their destination.

What Are the Dangers of Lane Splitting?

Most of the dangers regarding lane splitting revolve around drivers either not seeing the motorcyclist or not paying attention to their driving.

  • Vehicle blind spots. Drivers of cars and trucks have blind spots that already pose a danger to motorcyclists, but coming into a blind spot where they least expect it (by lane splitting) makes it even likelier that an accident will occur if one of the drivers tries to change lanes or is distracted and drifts closer to the center line.
  • Startled drivers. If the driver does see the motorcycle coming up between them and the other car, they might be startled and swerve into the motorcycle.
  • Unmarked lane changes. Suppose a motorcyclist attempts to split the lane at the same time that a car driver decides to try to move into the left lane without signaling. In that case, there can be a catastrophic accident involving the car, motorcycle, and potentially other cars that the lane-changing driver overlooked.

Is There Any Other Kind of Lane Usage Prohibition in Nova Scotia?

Along with lane splitting, lane filtering is illegal in Nova Scotia. This is similar to lane splitting in that a motorcyclist weaves around and between other vehicles that are either going more slowly or have stopped to move ahead of the rest of the traffic. It carries the same types of dangers as lane splitting.

What Happens if I’m Injured in an Accident with One or More Other Vehicles While I’m Lane Splitting?

This is an excellent time to bring in an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. Nova Scotia has what’s known as contributory negligence laws regarding personal injury cases that could apply in these circumstances. Essentially, the laws state that someone injured in an accident can receive damages minus their share of the fault. Many people automatically assume the motorcyclist is entirely at fault, and having good legal representation to prove otherwise can make an enormous difference.

For example, say a motorcyclist is lane splitting when the driver of a car on the right veers into them. It turns out the driver of the car is driving under the influence of alcohol. While the motorcyclist is partially at fault because they shouldn’t have been lane splitting, the driver is also at fault. The court might decide that the motorcyclist is 40% responsible and the driver is 60% responsible. If the court decided to award the motorcyclist $20,000, the award would be reduced in proportion to the motorcyclist’s responsibility, so they’d receive $12,000–$20,000 minus 40%.

What Are Common Motorcycle Injuries That Could Result From Lane Splitting?

There are many, especially if there are high speeds involved. Several of these injuries can be long-lasting or have life-impacting consequences.

  • Broken bones and sprains.
  • Amputations.
  • Traumatic brain injuries, also called TBIs (a concussion is a form of TBI).
  • Amputated limbs.
  • Road rash.
  • Degloving, which is when the top layers of skin and tissue are torn away from underlying muscles, connective tissues, and bones. They often cause significant blood loss and tissue death, either of which could be life-threatening.

Are There Benefits to Lane Splitting?

Many motorcyclists point to the benefits of lane splitting. Since it’s currently illegal in Nova Scotia, engaging in this practice can’t be recommended. Some groups are lobbying governmental entities to make it legal, claiming it can help speed up slow traffic by opening spaces for vehicles to move ahead once the motorcycle leaves the lane, allowing motorcycles to be more visible because they’re more noticeable in front of traffic than in the midst or behind it; and lane splitting reduces carbon emissions.

What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in an Accident While Lane Splitting?

First, see a medical professional to be thoroughly examined for injuries as soon as possible. There are injuries that don’t immediately exhibit symptoms, some of which are serious and even life-threatening. Once you know the extent of your injuries, you can better prepare to claim damages.

Then call us at 902-706-5205 to make an appointment for a free case review. Filing claims for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, especially if it looks like it could be a case that goes to court, is best handled by experienced motorcycle accident lawyers. It’s not uncommon for courts and insurance companies to view motorcyclists as automatically more at fault. But as discussed above, even if someone was lane splitting, they may not be entirely or even primarily at fault. Having a lawyer to evaluate the case could make a significant difference in the legal outcomes.