I would like to know if lane splitting at 100km/h+ on a free moving highway is legal or not? Specifically referring to swerving between cars to overtake them? If an accident happens where the bike struck the car on one of the rear panels when the car was changing lanes, who is at fault?
If yes, please direct me to the Government Gazette article where this is stated.
Let us first have a look at the relevant legislation:
A motor cycle is a motor vehicle and the legislation prescribe the procedure for the overtaking of motor vehicles. Overtaking in the same lane is not allowed.
Passing of vehicle
Reg 298. (1) Subject to the provisions of subregulation (2) and (4) and regulation 296, the driver of a vehicle intending to pass any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction on a public road shall pass to the right thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive on the left side of the roadway until safely clear of the vehicle so passed:
Provided that, in the circumstances as aforesaid, passing on the left of such vehicle shall be permissible if the person driving the passing vehicle can do so with safety to himself or herself and other traffic or property which is or may be on such road and—
(a) the vehicle being passed is turning to its right or the driver thereof has signalled his or her intention of turning to his or her right;
(b) such road is a public road in an urban area and—
(i) is restricted to vehicles moving in one direction; and
(ii) the roadway is of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles;
(c) such road is a public road in an urban area and the roadway is of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles moving in each direction;
(d) the roadway of such road is restricted to vehicles moving in one direction and is divided into traffic lanes by appropriate road traffic signs; or
(e) he or she is driving in compliance with the directions of a traffic officer or is driving in traffic which is under the general direction of such officer, and in accordance with such direction:
Provided further that in no event shall any passing referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d) be done by driving on the shoulders of the roadway or on the verge of the public road concerned.
(2) The driver of a vehicle shall not pass other traffic proceeding in the same direction on a public road when approaching—
(a) the summit of a rise;
(b) a curve; or
(c) any other place,
where his or her view is so restricted that any such passing could create a hazard in relation to other traffic which might approach from the opposite direction, unless—
(i) he or she can do so without encroaching on the right‑hand side of the roadway; or
(ii) the roadway of such road is restricted to vehicles moving in one direction.
(3) The driver of a vehicle on a public road shall, except in the circumstances referred to in the first proviso to subregulation (1), upon becoming aware of other traffic proceeding in the same direction and wishing to pass his or her vehicle, cause his or her vehicle to travel as near to the left edge of the roadway as is possible, without endangering himself or herself or other traffic or property on the roadway, and shall not accelerate the speed of his or her vehicle until the other vehicle has passed.
(4) When about to pass oncoming traffic, the driver of a vehicle on a public road shall ensure that the vehicle driven by him or her does not encroach on the roadway to his or her right in such manner as may obstruct or endanger such oncoming traffic.
(5) The driver of a vehicle intending to pass a stationary bus on a public road shall do so with due care for the safety of persons who are approaching or leaving or may approach or leave such bus.
Duties relating to motor cycle or motor tricycle
Reg 309. (1) No person shall drive a motor cycle or motor tricycle on a public road unless his or her feet are resting on the front foot-rests suitable for the purpose and, where the design of such motor cycle or motor tricycle makes it possible to do so, he or she is seated astride on the saddle of such motor cycle or motor tricycle.
(2) No person shall on a public road carry a passenger on a motor cycle unless such cycle has an engine with a cylinder capacity exceeding 50 cubic centimetres and unless such passenger is seated in a side-car or astride on a pillion attached to such cycle and, in such latter event, the feet of the passenger are resting on foot-rests suitable for that purpose.
(3) Subject to the provisions of subregulation (2), not more than two persons shall ride upon a motor cycle on a public road, excluding a person riding in a side-car attached to such motor cycle.
(4) Not more than two adult persons shall be carried in a side-car attached to a motor cycle on a public road.
(5) No person or animal or object shall be carried on a motor cycle or motor tricycle on a public road in front of the driver thereof: Provided that an object of a non-bulky nature may be so carried if securely attached to the motor cycle or motor tricycle or placed in a suitable carrier fitted thereon for that purpose and carried in such a way as not to obstruct the driver’s view or prevent his or her exercising complete control over such motor cycle or motor tricycle;
(6) (a) Persons, other than traffic officers in the performance of their duties, driving motor cycles on a public road, shall drive in single file except in the course of overtaking another motor cycle, and two or more persons driving motor cycles shall not overtake another vehicle at the same time: Provided that where a public road is divided into traffic lanes, each such lane shall, for the purposes of this paragraph, be regarded as a public road.
(b) For the purposes of paragraph (a), a motor cycle shall include a motor tricycle
(7) No person driving a motor cycle or motor tricycle on a public road or seated on such motor cycle or motor tricycle shall take hold of any other vehicle in motion.
(8) Any person driving a motor cycle or motor tricycle on a public road shall do so with at least one hand on the handlebars of such motor cycle or motor tricycle.
(9) Any person driving a motor cycle or motor tricycle on a public road shall do so in such manner that all the wheels of such motor cycle or motor tricycle are in contact with the surface of the road at all times.
Alta Swanepoel & Associates
There may not be specific legislation making this illegal – and it will remain a common practise amongst bikers/ motorcyclists – but it is of the utmost importance to focus on the need for caution and safety. We would like to quote a few comments from an article on LookLocal :
- Lane-splitting is the time and fuel saving way to get to work and possibly to hospital.
- Lane-splitting is a practice or skill whereby two-wheelers, such as motorcycles and scooters, weave through the gaps in traffic, avoiding the stop-and-go motion completely.
- A real threat for lane-splitters is that travelling at an accelerated speed between the vehicles can result in a collision with the motor cars.
- Contrary to popular belief lane-splitting is actually legal in South-Africa, says the National Chairman of Justice Project South Africa, Howard Dembovsky.
- Marshal Portfolio Head of Think Bike in the Western Cape, Stewart Hendry says, “The Think Bike Safety and Awareness campaign, while upholding the right of motorcycles to lane-split, recommends a differential speed of no more than 20 to 25 kilometres per hour during lane-splitting (for example, if the surrounding traffic is travelling at 20 kilometres per hour, the motorcycle should not be travelling faster than between 40 and 45 kilometres per hour).
- “At these speeds lane-splitting is reasonably safe, and it has the benefit of easing traffic congestion on the road. It benefits other road users too, because every lane-splitting motorcycle is one less vehicle between you and your destination.”