How Dangerous is Lane Splitting?

In congested or stop-and-go traffic, many motorcyclists are tempted to avoid delays by “lane splitting” or riding between two lanes of slowly moving cars. While many states do not specifically prohibit lane splitting, they do not recognize it as a legal road maneuver. At this time, only California specifically permits lane splitting if it is done in a “safe and prudent” manner.

There are mixed reviews on the relative dangers of lane splitting. In slow-moving traffic, drivers can change lanes without warning, putting motorcyclists at an added risk for collision. Critics of lane splitting also cite the close proximity of the motorcycle to cars and reduced space to maneuver as evidence that the practice increases the risk of a motorcycle collision.

Motorcycle advocates like the American Motorcyclist Association counter the critics by pointing to evidence that stop-and-go traffic is actually the most dangerous place for a motorcyclist. According to a study called The Hurt Report, more than 59 percent of motorcycle accidents in the study occurred in moderate or heavy traffic.

Viewed in this light, proponents of lane splitting argue that riders are actually decreasing their risk of an accident by moving out of dangerous traffic as soon as possible. They also point out that lane splitting is common overseas, in heavily urbanized sections of Europe and Asia.

If you decide to try lane splitting, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

  • Only lane split if both lanes are traveling the same speed to avoid drivers making sudden lane changes.
  • Be extra careful when traveling in a car’s blind spot.
  • Do not zoom by slow moving cars. Travel only slightly faster than the surrounding traffic.
  • If traffic accelerates to about 30 mph, get back into a designated lane.

Is Lane Splitting Legal In Colorado?

Based on the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) website, passing a vehicle in the same lane and lane splitting are both illegal on a motorcycle. Lane sharing is permitted between two motorcycles.

At Metier Law Firm, our attorneys are dedicated to the Colorado riding community, and making sure all motorcyclists can travel safely. To request help with your motorcycle accident or injury, call Metier Law Firm. We know motorcycles, and we know how to help you.

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