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Lane Splitting Injury Laws

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What is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is a type of road maneuver associated with motorcycles and bicycles. It involves the motorcyclist or cyclist riding in between lanes of vehicles. The rider usually does this to cut through traffic and avoid congestion by passing in between the slower cars. This type of riding can be dangerous for the lane splitter and the cars if it is done while traffic is moving quickly or unsafely, as riding in between lanes can place the motorcycle rider or cyclist in a blind spot that may lead to an accident. However, there are studies indicating this is a safer method of traveling through slower, more congested areas as it increases the visibility of the rider.

Other names for lane splitting include:

  • Forward filtering
  • Filtering
  • Lane sharing
  • White-striping

What Are the Laws on Lane Splitting?

California is the only state whose vehicle codes do not expressly prohibit lane splitting. However, it is not expressly permitted either. A 2012 statement made by the California Highway Patrol indicated that lane splitting is allowed, but only if it is executed in a safe and prudent manner. Therefore, while lane splitting is not illegal in California, the lane splitter can still be cited if they are riding between lanes unsafely.

Some states such as Colorado and Nebraska have laws in their books that explicitly prohibit the practice of lane splitting. Other states, such as New Mexico, do not expressly prohibit lane splitting, but use other laws to effectively make lane splitting illegal in practice.

Therefore, lane splitting is strongly discouraged for those who are located outside of California.

What If I’ve Been Injured While Lane Splitting?

If you’ve been injured while lane splitting on a bicycle or motorcycle, you may encounter difficulties when attempting to recover damages for your injuries. This may be because many insurance companies and courts assume that the cyclist wasn’t riding properly if they got into an accident while lane splitting.

On the other hand, you may recover for damages associated with lane splitting injuries if you can prove that:

  • You were following traffic laws in your state
  • The other driver was driving under conditions of severe negligence, or
  • You were prompted to split lanes under emergency conditions (i.e., to avoid an accident, etc.)

Proving fault in any motorcycle accident can be difficult. It may require the assistance of an expert witness who can testify as to details such as speed, road conditions, traffic conditions, and several other considerations. Always be sure to follow all motorcycle and state helmet laws.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Lane Splitting Injury Laws?

The laws on lane splitting and other related practices can often be very strict.  It’s in your best interests to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer if you have any questions about lane splitting laws, or if you’ve been involved in a lane splitting accident.  Your lawyer will be able to advise you on the laws in your state, and can help represent you in court if necessary.

Photo of page author Matthew Izzi

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 03-03-2014 03:30 PM PST

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