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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Last Modified: 03-03-2014 03:30 PM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.