Lane Splitting & Filtering Are Legal in the Following States
David Muñoz | January 31, 2023 | Motorcycle Accidents
If you ride a motorcycle, being stuck in traffic can be both frustrating and dangerous. You may worry about cars running into the back of you, and you probably find yourself staring down that wide open space between the lanes of cars. Can you just ride between lanes and get out of the jam?
Lane splitting can be a beneficial practice, but it’s still illegal in most states. Read on to discover the states where lane splitting & filtering are legal and how to practice it safely.
What Are Lane Splitting and Filtering?
Before we get into the legality of lane splitting and filtering, let’s talk about what they are.
Lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle in between two lanes of traffic that are moving at higher speeds. You may also hear this called white lining.
Lane filtering is a very similar practice – driving your motorcycle between two lanes of slower-moving traffic. But this term usually references doing this at lower speeds. A motorcyclist who’s lane filtering may be weaving in and out of lanes of traffic that are moving very slowly or are stopped entirely.
Are These Practices Safe?
One of the biggest questions surrounding lane splitting is whether it’s safe. After all, weaving in and out of lanes of traffic seems incredibly dangerous, especially on a motorcycle, where you don’t have anything to protect you from a collision.
But you might be surprised to learn that, done properly, lane splitting can actually reduce risk for motorcyclists.
In stop-and-go traffic, distracted drivers can fail to stop in time and may run into the back of a motorcyclist, pinning them between two cars. But if a motorcycle is lane splitting, it’s impossible for a car to run into the back of them.
As long as they’re maintaining a reasonable speed and following lane splitting safety guidelines, this practice can help to protect them from a crash.
States Where Lane Splitting Is Legal
In the last few years, several states have legalized lane splitting, and more may follow in the coming years.
Lane filtering is technically legal in Arizona as of 2022, but only under certain conditions.
- You can only ride between lanes of traffic stopped at a light.
- The speed limit of the road has to be less than 45 miles per hour.
- You can’t ride faster than 15 miles per hour.
- The street has to have at least two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction.
- You have to be passing a car stopped in the same lane.
- You have to ride in the middle of the lanes, not on the median or shoulder.
These regulations are meant to keep motorcyclists safe during stop-and-go traffic situations.
California is the only state where lane splitting is legal.
Experts in this state do recommend that motorcyclists only go ten miles per hour above the speed of the surrounding traffic and that they avoid lane splitting over speeds of 30 miles per hour. You also can’t lane split near freeway exits or ramps.
Hawaii doesn’t technically allow lane splitting or filtering, but they do allow shoulder surfing as an alternative to the two. Motorcyclists can ride on the shoulder of the road to pass stopped vehicles as long as the road has two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction.
Montana passed a bill in 2021 allowing lane filtering in specific circumstances. You can’t ride faster than 20 miles per hour when lane filtering, and you have to stay within ten miles per hour of the cars around you. The lanes also have to be wide enough for you to safely lane split, and traffic and road conditions must be safe enough to justify it.
Utah became the second state to allow lane filtering, passing a law in 2019 that allows the practice under some conditions.
The speed limit on the road has to be 45 miles per hour or less and has to have at least two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. You can’t ride faster than 15 miles per hour while lane filtering, and you must be moving around traffic that’s stopped. You also have to stay between marked lanes, not on a shoulder or in a bike lane.
States Without Lane Splitting Laws
The states we discussed above all have laws specifically governing the circumstances under which lane splitting is legal. But some states just have no rules on the book governing lane splitting.
Those states include:
- Washington, D.C.
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
In some of these states, lane splitting is considered de facto legal, but it’s up to the discretion of law enforcement.
States Where Lane Splitting Is Illegal
Finally, most states still have laws on the books making lane splitting illegal. Some of these are considering legislation to legalize the practice, but those bills have not come through yet.
These states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Of these, Massachusetts and Virginia are currently considering legislation to legalize lane splitting.
Next Steps After a Crash
While lane splitting may seem dangerous on the surface, it can actually help protect motorcyclists in stop-and-go traffic situations. Currently, lane splitting is only legal in some form in five states. But legislation is in the works to legalize this practice elsewhere across the United States.
If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you need a lawyer who will fight for your rights and protect you from claims that the accident was your fault. Mission Personal Injury Lawyers has over four decades of combined experience standing up for our clients. Schedule a free consultation with us today to start getting the money you’re entitled to.
Contact the San Diego Motorcycle Accident Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information
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