The legality of lane splitting has long been a cause for debate in the United States. Many consider the act of riding a motorcycle between lanes, in standstill traffic dangerous. In fact, in most states, lane splitting is illegal, including Florida and Tennessee. It’s up to all motorists to obey the law and the rules of the road, regardless of personal opinions or views on the matter.
What is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist passes one or more vehicles in the area between two lanes, often the area of the road where the road line is painted. Typically, motorcyclists will use lane splitting to avoid stopping in heavy traffic. A study by the University of California Berkeley has found that lane splitting may be safer for motorcyclists than riding in a lane traditionally, during periods of heavy traffic.
The study found that motorcyclists are more likely to be hit from behind by cars. Lane splitting eliminates that possibility for motorcyclists who will pass between lanes because no cars able to hit them from behind. Additionally, most lane splitting occurs at speeds slower than 50 mph. At these speeds, injuries are usually less severe overall.
Where is Lane Splitting Legal in the U.S.
Over the years, several bills have been passed in different states to legalize lane splitting. The following states have legalized the practice. So, if you’re riding a motorcycle, it’s important to keep these states in America where lane splitting is legal:
- California – California was one of the first states to embrace lane splitting even before it was legalized, motorists and motorcyclists respected the practice for years. In 2016, it was declared legal across the state. California is the only state in America to officially make lane splitting legal. Assembly Bill No. 51.
- Arizona – Lawmakers in Arizona first attempted to legalize lane splitting with Senate Bill 1007, but it failed to pass. At the beginning of 2020, however, Representative Noel Campbell introduced House Bill 2285 that aims to restart talks about legalizing lane splitting in the state of Arizona. Discussions are still underway, but people are expecting this motion to pass this time. AZ SB1007 | 2020 | Fifty-fourth Legislature 2nd Regular.
- Hawaii – Though lane splitting is technically not legal because Hawaii’s roads may be too narrow, the state has allowed shoulder surfing for motorcyclists on the island when there is traffic congestion.
- Connecticut – Senate Bill 629 was recently introduced in Connecticut and lawmakers are currently in discussion to legalize lane splitting and filtering. The bill has already been referred to the Committee on Transportation, but there hasn’t been any news since. Proposed S.B. No. 629. Session Year 2019.
- Utah – In March 2019, Utah followed California’s example by becoming the second state to formally legalize filtering. Although it’s not as permissive as lane splitting, lane filtering can help motorcyclists avoid being tailgated when on the road. Utah land filtering guidelines.
- Oregon – House Bill 2314 ,a proposition to make lane splitting legal has been introduced to the Speaker’s desk and is currently in discussion. If the bill passes, motorcyclists will be allowed to travel between cars on roadways with speed limits of 50 mph or more and on traffic moving at 10 mph or slower.
- Washington – In 2015, Washington introduced a bill to legalize lane splitting, which did not pass. Then, 4 years later, lawmakers reintroduced Senate Bill 5254, which was left hanging for discussion. On January 13, 2020, the same Senate Bill was reintroduced and is still pending approval.
- Virginia – At the beginning of the year, Representative Tony Wilt introduced House Bill 1236 to amend the Code of Virginia, this allowing land splitting in the state. This bill has already been referred to the Committee on Transportation and awaiting approval.
If you happen to live in a state where lane splitting bills are still pending approval, contact your legislator to support lane splitting legalization. And if you are involved in an accident, be sure to contact a motorcycle accident lawyer in Florida or a motorcycle accident lawyer in Tennessee.
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