Being a motorcyclist in Nebraska gives you all the same rights as someone behind the wheel of a traditional motor vehicle. You and a vehicle driver share the same rights to the road, as well as many of the same responsibilities. It is up to you to obey your state’s rules for using your motorcycle safely and correctly. Understanding your rights as a motorcyclist could help you protect them during a motorcycle accident claim in Omaha.
Rights to the Road
Motorcyclists may operate their vehicles on all the same roads as regular motor vehicle drivers in Nebraska. This includes all of the state’s highways. They must ride in the same direction as traffic and follow all relevant road signs. Motorcyclists need room to safely maneuver. All drivers should give motorcyclists adequate space on the road. Drivers must allow motorcyclists the full width of a lane.
If two motorcyclists wish to ride abreast of one another in the same lane, they have that right. A motor vehicle driver, however, cannot share a lane with a motorcyclist. If a driver wants to pass a motorcyclist, he or she must do so by entering the adjacent lane completely and then passing. It is illegal to pass a motorcyclist who is in the same lane. A driver must keep an appropriate following distance behind a motorcycle to help prevent rear-end collisions, which could be deadly for motorcyclists.
Motorcyclists will have the right-of-way in Nebraska when traffic control signals and roadway rules give them this right. The same right-of-way rules apply to motorcyclists as vehicle drivers. At a traffic light, a motorcyclist may only cross into the intersection with a green light. If turning left, the motorcyclist must wait for oncoming traffic to clear before turning. One of the most common types of motorcycle wrecks is a left-turn accident, in which a driver ignores the motorcyclist’s right-of-way and crosses in front of him or her to turn. This is a dangerous breach of duty that could lead to a T-bone accident or head-on collision.
Right to a Safe Ride
Every city and state has a responsibility to keep its public roads reasonably safe for all users, including vulnerable motorcyclists. This means checking the roads regularly for hazards such as potholes, cracks, loose gravel, left-behind construction equipment, uneven shoulders, missing guardrails, broken traffic lights, obscured signs and grass clippings. It is the city’s duty to promptly repair known problems with a road that could cause an accident. If the city cannot repair the road right away, it must post warning signs for motorists instead. If a dangerous road condition causes a motorcycle wreck, the injured victim may be able to file a claim against the city.
In addition to the right to safe roads, motorcyclists also have the right to expect safe motor vehicle operation from drivers. Drivers in Nebraska have a duty to reasonably prevent motorcycle accidents by keeping a proper lookout, avoiding distractions, following speed limits, keeping safe following distances and obeying roadway laws. If a driver negligently fails to fulfill these duties, leading to a motorcycle wreck, the injured motorcyclist has the right to seek compensation.
Right to File a Lawsuit Against an At-Fault Driver
An injured motorcyclist in Omaha can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the driver or party responsible for causing the accident. A personal injury suit demands compensation for damages such as motorcycle repairs, hospital expenses, legal fees, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you get injured in a motorcycle accident in Nebraska, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party for up to four years from the date of the collision. Four years is the statute of limitations on most personal injury claims in Nebraska, with some exceptions. Contact a lawyer right away for assistance with your motorcycle accident case.
Lane splitting refers to riding between two lanes of same-direction traffic on a motorcycle, rather than keeping only in one lane. Motorcyclists may try to lane split to pass slower-moving vehicles in heavy traffic. Lane splitting is an illegal traffic maneuver for motorcyclists in every state except California and Utah. It is not legal to lane split on a motorcycle in Nebraska. Doing so could mean a traffic infraction and fines, as well as civil liability if the motorcyclist causes a motorcycle accident.
Why Do Motorcyclists Lane Split?
Lane splitting became a subject of debate in many states due to motorcyclists advocating for the right to ride between lanes. Many motorcyclists believe lane splitting is a safe and effective way to avoid traffic on busy streets and highways. Some motorists also support the practice, believing lane splitting could help clear traffic congestion. Many motorcyclists also believe lane splitting could help them avoid rear-end collisions. Stopping a motorcycle between two vehicles helps prevent an oncoming vehicle from being able to rear-end the motorcyclist.
People who are against lane splitting assert that it is a dangerous practice that can risk the lives of motorcyclists and other roadway users. Those opposed to lane splitting often believe it puts motorcyclists too close to other motor vehicles, increasing the risk of accidents. Drivers may also be afraid to switch lanes for fear of striking a fast-moving motorcycle riding between the lanes.
In 2016, California became the first state to remove the language in its traffic laws prohibiting lane splitting. Lawmakers voted on the bill after a study from Berkeley announced the relative safety of lane splitting when done prudently. After California moved to legalize lane splitting, Utah followed with the passing of a modified lane filtering bill. Lane splitting on a motorcycle remains illegal in every other state. Nebraska’s motorcycle laws state that no one can operate a motorcycle between two or more lanes of traffic or between two rows of vehicles.
State law also says no motorcycle operator may overtake or pass in the same lane as the vehicle he or she is passing. It is against the law for a motorcyclist to share a lane with a motor vehicle. However, two motorcyclists may share a lane. According to Nebraska’s motorcycle handbook, riders should maintain center-lane positions. This is especially important when surrounding drivers are trying to pass, to keep the motor vehicle at a safe distance away from the motorcycle. Otherwise, drivers may try to squeeze past the motorcycle and get too close.
In Nevada, traffic laws assert that lane splitting can leave a motorcyclist vulnerable to accidents, including a door opening or a vehicle suddenly turning. Nevada prohibits lane splitting and suggests all motorcyclists discourage lane sharing by others. Nebraska is one of many states that explicitly prohibits motorcycle lane splitting in the language of its laws. Several other states do not address lane splitting in its statutes, either to legalize it or make it illegal. Currently, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Maryland and Washington, D.C. are considering legislation that could legalize lane splitting. Nebraska currently has no such bills underway.
Will Lane Splitting Place Accident Liability With the Motorcyclist?
If a motorcyclist in Nebraska breaks state law and rides between two rows of cars, he or she could be liable for a related vehicle collision. The driver could argue that the motorcyclist breached a duty of care by breaking the state’s lane-splitting law and that this is what caused the collision. If an insurance company or the courts agree with the driver, the motorcyclist may have to pay for the driver’s damages – including medical bills and vehicle repairs – out of pocket or through his or her automobile insurance. The motorcyclist may also have to pay for his or her own crash injuries, even if they are worse than the driver’s. Avoiding lane splitting is the best way for motorcyclists in Nebraska to protect themselves and their rights.