Nevada’s Assembly Transportation Committee met to hear AB236, which would legalize lane splitting in Nevada, last Thursday, March 28th 2013. The bill was presented by co-sponsor Richard Daly with presentations by Steve Guderian, Ernie Adler and Pete VanderAa, who then answered questions from Assemblymen and Assemblywomen. The meeting started late and had to be split into two sessions. The Transportation Committee is chaired by Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, co-sponsor of AB236.
To recap, the bill would legalize lane splitting in Nevada, “provided that the person drives in a cautious and prudent manner and the motorcycle or moped does not exceed a speed of 30 miles per hour while driving between such vehicles.”
There were a couple of changes discussed right in the beginning of the first session. First, Assemblyman Daly stated the bill would be changed to take effect in January 2014, to allow for “public service announcements, some changes to DMV training for motorcycle riders to try to make both the public aware and the riders aware” of the new rules of the road. This is good – awareness campaigns and education will help ease the transition and hopefully reduce aggressive reactions by uninformed drivers.
The second change is very troubling. At about 4:27 in the first video below, Daly states, “…on the liability side, talking with people in law enforcement is that if there was an accident, and the lane splitting, that they would cite the motorcyclist anyway, say it was his fault. So we was just looking at it a little more in the… trying to give people a little more peace of mind to say that, if a person decides to do the lane splitting, you do so at your own risk. So we just want to make it clear that, you know, we’re not trying to put anybody on the hook, or get the regular people in their cars to have additional liability ’cause someone else… you know, did something else.”
Translation: if this bill is passed and you’re splitting lanes legally – cautiously and prudently as required by the new law – and a driver hits you, it’s your fault because we can’t have “regular people” (which apparently doesn’t include motorcyclists) being “on the hook” to be aware of their surroundings and check their mirrors to avoid “additional liability” if they hit a rider who’s doing “something else.” Something else being lane splitting, which would be legal. Isn’t not hitting other drivers something all drivers are already on the hook for?
Here’s the video of the first session, taken from the Nevada State Legislature’s streaming video of the meeting.
At about 12:20, Assemblywoman Carlton gives us her impression of how lane splitting works. “I’m picturing a scenario, I’m on the highway, we’re going down… 25 miles an hour, I’ve got a kid in the back seat. They roll the window down, they stick their arm out, my kid ends up with a broken arm, the motorcyclist’s guts end up all over the back of my car. Uhm… it just doesn’t seem to me to make a lot of sense. I’m sorry, it doesn’t. It just seems like a very dangerous thing to be doing.” Steve Guderian responds with some solid statistics (see supporting docs from the meeting at the end of this post) about the types of accidents in California and Europe, where lane splitting has been widely practiced for many years. Assemblywoman Swank basically discounts the data from Europe, because “driving practices are just very different than they are here.”
Shortly after this discussion, the meeting goes into recess. Upon reconvening later in the evening, Assemblywoman Swank asks some questions about the safety of lane splitting, specifically about rear end collisions. Steve Guderian responds again with data, comparing California to Arizona and Florida – California was 50% lower than these states with similar riding seasons and rider numbers.
The second half of this session includes Rick Eckhart from the Confederation of Clubs weighing in on the safety elements of lane spitting and an “opposition” statement by Brian O’Callahan from Las Vegas Metro Police Department, which is basically support with concerns about inexperienced riders sharing lanes.
In summary, the proponents of AB236 are relying on safety points, data, and the example of the California Highway Patrol lane splitting guidelines to make their case. Some of the opposition seems to be very focused on misconceptions about safety – for example, Assemblywoman Carlton’s concerns about riders’ guts getting splattered on the back of her car. Hopefully the data will help with this.
It’s hard to gauge chances of AB236 passing from this meeting. There was very limited presentation of opposing viewpoints to the committee – even the Las Vegas Metro LEOs appear to be willing to support AB236 if the inexperienced rider issue can be addressed. The data makes a solid case for the safety provided by splitting lanes, and Assemblywoman Swank seems particularly interested in this part of the issue – in spite of appearing doubtful and concerned at times. Assemblyman Carrillo and Transportation Committee Chair Carrillo is a co-sponsor of the bill. However, Assemblywoman Carlton is obviously not a fan and some of the other committee members are hard to read.
We’ll report on further developments on AB236 as get more information. Check out the videos and post your comments below or join in the conversation on the LaneSplittingIsLegal Facebook page.
- AB236 Bill Text (PDF)
- Nevada Assembly Transportation Committee AB236 Meeting Agenda (PDF)
- Ernie Adler’s Testimony Outline for AB236 (PDF)
- Motorcycle Industry Council’s Position Statement on Lane Splitting (PDF)
- Lane Sharing as a Motorcycle Rider Safety Practice – A Further Evaluation, by Steve Guderian (PDF)
- Nevada Department of Public Safety AB236 Transportation Committee Meeting Presentation (PDF)