Is It Illegal for Motorcycles to Split Lanes?

Though motorcycles are quite popular, they come with increased risks and dangers for the rider. Because motorcyclists do not have the same protections as those in passenger cars, small mistakes or accidents on the road can result in serious injuries or fatalities. There are some increasingly common trends that increase these risks, and these include what is known as lane splitting.

Lane Splitting

When a motorcyclist rides between car lanes, this is known as splitting lanes. Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles and easier to maneuver, so they are able to fit between other cars on the road. Many motorcyclists split lanes as a way to pass other cars and get through traffic without having to slow down or stop. Splitting lanes when traffic is at a complete stop is called filtering.

Because of the dangers presented by splitting lanes, it is illegal in every state except California. Splitting lanes in any other state besides California can result in a traffic ticket and large fines.

Why Lane Splitting is Illegal

Traffic lanes represent boundaries on the road that allow cars a certain width of space to safely move within. When a motorcycle travels between two lanes, it does not have a designated space, so this presents potential hazards to the rider and other drivers.

Though a motorcyclist may seemingly have plenty of room to fit between cars in either lane, they cannot be sure that both cars will stay the same distance from one another. Cars often drift within their lanes and change lanes. If they do not see a motorcycle coming, even the slightest impact could be disastrous for the motorcyclist. After all, many drivers have blind spots and do not expect or prepare for a motorcycle to pass close to them. And when they are startled in this way, they could lose complete control of their vehicle, further injuring themself and additional vehicles on the road.

When traffic is slow or at a complete stop, potential dangers still exist. An unexpected event such as a parked car’s door opening can be very dangerous to the motorcyclist.

The Responsibility of the Motorcyclist

If a motorcyclist is involved in an accident because they were lane splitting, then they are generally considered responsible. The offender can be ticketed and held liable for all of the resulting injuries and damages. Because lane splitting is legal in California, a motorcyclist may not be held liable in an accident. If the motorcyclist can prove that the automobile driver involved in the accident was at fault, then they are likely able to avoid liability.

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you should contact an experienced lawyer in the area who can help determine the liability laws and requirements for your situation such as the motorbike accident lawyer  locals trust.

Each state has different regulations regarding motorcycle safety, so if you are involved in an accident, it is always best to seek legal counsel from a lawyer in the state where the accident occured. They are most likely to have knowledge of the specific laws in play, which will allow them to best protect your rights and interests.