Arizona Lane Splitting Accidents | Phillips Law Group
June 21, 2018
Lane splitting is a dangerous traffic maneuver that occurs when a motorcyclist travels in two lanes at the same time. Motorcyclists often do this between two lanes of slow-moving or stopped vehicles. However, this can easily lead to an accident that could cause severe injuries to the motorcyclist and occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury because a motorcycle rider was engaging in lane splitting, you should contact a knowledgeable Phoenix motorcycle accident attorneyat Phillips Law Group. We can answer your questions about pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver in a free, no obligation legal consultation.
Injured in a motorcycle crash? Call today for assistance. Ph: 1-800-706-3000 .
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is the act of using two lanes at the same time, usually while traffic is stopped or slow-moving. This driving maneuver is also referred to as lane sharing, white-lining, stripe lining or filtering.
Motorcyclists engage in lane splitting because their vehicles are smaller and more maneuverable than cars. Many bikers feel that lane splitting is safer than staying in one lane of slow-moving traffic ”“ if they stay in one lane they risk being hit from behind by a driver who is not paying attention. Some motorcyclists think lane splitting helps make them be more visible to other drivers.
Is Lane Splitting Legal Where I Live?
Unless you live in California, the answer is very likely no. California is the only state that has legalized this practice. Many other states have laws making it illegal, including Arizona.
There are several states where it is not legal or illegal. In these states, law enforcement officers may use their discretion to determine if lane splitting is a traffic violation. These states include:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
Legislation to legalize lane splitting has been proposed in several states, but so far, Utah is the only state to change its traffic laws. Below, learn more about the proposed legislation in some of these states:
There have been multiple attempts to legalize lane splitting in Arizona. A bill was introduced in 2010 but it did not pass. The same bill was reintroduced in 2018 with the same result.
SB 1007 was introduced in 2020 with the goal of legalizing lane splitting and allowing motorcycles to pass vehicles in the same lane they are both occupying. The bill was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Rules Committee on January 13, 2020. It was read a second time on January 14, 2020. However, that is as far as the bill got.
California passed a law legalizing lane splitting in 2017, making it the first state to do so. Lane splitting was never outlawed in California, but the new law gave California Highway Patrol (CHP) the power to develop guidelines about lane splitting.
The CHP website advises riders to use extreme caution when lane splitting. It also notes the risk of injury greatly increases as speed increases. Lane splitting should only be done by experienced riders.
While lane splitting is still illegal in Utah, lane filtering is not, thanks to a new law that took effect in March 2019. The goal of the law is to help reduce rear-end collisions involving motorcyclists.
Lane filtering means riding between two lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic. In Utah, lane filtering is only legal when traffic is stopped, and the speed limit is 45 miles per hour or less. Riders cannot travel more than 15 mph when lane filtering.
In Oregon, House Bill 2314 made it to the Speaker’s desk in 2019, but it did not pass. In 2021, Governor Kate Brown vetoed Senate Bill 574, which would have allowed lane splitting when traffic slowed to 10 mph or less. The governor cited safety concerns and non-compliance as reasons for vetoing the bill. Lane splitting is still illegal in Oregon.
Washington State prohibits lane splitting, but lawmakers have attempted to change things. In 2015, a bill was introduced but it did not pass. In 2019, the same bill was reintroduced to no avail. The same bill was reintroduced again in 2020 but has not progressed further.
The state Traffic Safety Commission has said lane splitting can be dangerous and would not help reduce motorcycle accident deaths and catastrophic injuries.
Lane splitting is still illegal in Hawaii, although the state allows shoulder surfing. (House Bill 2859 was passed in 2018 by the legislature.) This is the practice of driving on the shoulder when there is heavy traffic. This is only legal if you are on a two-wheeled motorcycle.
One of the potential hurdles to making lane splitting legal in the state is the fact many of the roads are too narrow for motorcycles to fit between lanes.
Lawmakers discussed Senate Bill 629 to legalize lane splitting and filtering. It was referred to the Committee on Transportation, but it did not progress further. That means lane splitting is still illegal in Connecticut.
House Bill 1236 would allow lane filtering if traffic is stopped or proceeding at 10 mph or less. Riders cannot travel more than 20 mph while engaging in lane filtering.
The bill was introduced in January 2020 and went through a couple of committees before stalling in February 2020.
That means lane splitting and lane filtering are still illegal in this state.
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Who Is at Fault for a Lane Splitting Accident?
Motorists who cause an accident while violating a traffic law are often found at fault. This means that if a motorcyclist engages in lane splitting and it causes an accident, he or she will likely be found at fault for the crash and responsible for injuries and property damage. This is true even if the motorcyclist avoids injury and the accident involves two other vehicles.
Even though lane splitting is illegal, some motorcyclists still do it. This is why drivers need to take precautions to lower the risk of a crash if a motorcyclist engages in lane splitting near their vehicle. These precautions include:
- Driving no more than 10 miles per hour faster than other vehicles around you
- Remaining cautious and aware of your surroundings, particularly in heavy traffic
- Staying alert and mindful of other drivers’ actions
- Looking in your blind spots before merging into traffic or switching lanes
Dangers of Lane Splitting
Lane splitting can cause significant injuries and property damage. The driver of the passenger vehicle or the motorcyclist may sustain an injury that is severe or life-threatening.
This is why it is crucial for motorists to avoid bikers when they engage in lane splitting or other dangerous driving maneuvers, such as:
- Using inadequate space to lane split
- Driving between lanes near a toll booth
- Splitting lanes when traffic is moving at dangerous speeds
- Engaging in unpredictable movement
- Engaging in lane splitting in severe weather or when there are dangerous road conditions
Contact an Attorney for Help After an Accident
If you were injured in a lane splitting accident, contact our accomplished legal team at Phillips Law Group to learn about available legal options. We provide a free consultation so that you can learn about who may be held legally responsible for the accident and the compensation you may be entitled to receive.
We can help you pursue a legal claim against the responsible party for the car accident. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
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