How to Safely (and Legally) Split Lanes on a Motorcycle in the U.S.
a biker lane splitting in heavy traffic in san francisco

Is Lane Splitting Legal? Your Guide to Safe and Legal Lane Splitting

If you like to weave through traffic on your motorcycle, you’re probably a fan of what’s known as lane splitting, which means riding on the white line instead of the middle of a lane. This style of riding can help you get to your destination faster without waiting in traffic, but it’s not always illegal. Despite these benefits, it’s still best to use motorcycle communication, so you can keep in touch with your fellow riders or call 911 in an emergency. 

Here’s what you need to know about splitting lanes on your motorcycle:

What is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is the practice of riding in between designated lanes of traffic, usually marked by a white or yellow line. Riders will usually split lanes during periods of heavy traffic, so they can drive past cars.

There are several benefits to lane splitting. The rider can move through traffic without waiting for the car ahead of them to move forward. A study from the University of California shows that lane splitting can be safer for motorcycle riders than riding in traditional lanes. There is less of a chance that the rider will be hit by the car behind them. Most lane splitting occurs at speeds less than 50 mph, which reduces the chances of injury. 

Use Bluetooth Motorcycle Speakers to Stay Safe on the Road

Lane splitting can be dangerous in certain situations. There’s a chance you won’t have enough room to ride in between the cars on the road. You should always give yourself plenty of room to move through the lanes of traffic. Don’t try lane splitting on narrow or single-lane roads.

You should never try this style of riding when going above 50 mph. If you are skipping through traffic, reduce your speed and look for a way to merge into a lane as the congestion subsides.

Lane splitting near large vehicles can also be dangerous. They tend to have limited visibility, which increases the risk of collision. Avoid driving too close to trucks, buses, and limos.

a group of bikers splitting the lane at an intersection

Riding on the shoulder of the road is not the same as lane splitting and usually considered illegal. 

If you’re thinking of cruising through traffic, remember to wear a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet that will protect your head and help you access your phone in an emergency. 

Where is Lane Splitting Legal?

Lane splitting remains legal throughout most of the U.S., but several states have banned it outright. Every state has its own rules in place, so be sure to check your state’s laws for more information.

Keep in Touch with Your Fellow Riders with a Bluetooth Motorcycle Helmet

The following states currently allow lane splitting:

California

This is the only state to fully legalize lane splitting, but you should still consider the situation and use caution when riding between lanes. 

Utah

The state classifies lane splitting as “lane filtering” and is legal in certain situations. The other vehicles must be fully stopped, and you can’t go any faster than 45 mph.

Hawaii

The state doesn’t allow lane splitting but you can’t ride on the shoulder of the road when traffic is heavy.

Montana

The state allows lane splitting when vehicles are stopped or slow-moving. Your speed is limited to 20 mph.

Wear a Bluetooth Motorcycle Helmet in Case of Emergency

The rest of the U.S. doesn’t allow lane splitting at this time, so you’ll need to sit in traffic like everyone else. As motorcycling gains popularity, these laws may change over time. Many states have introduced bills that would legalize lane splitting, but they have yet to go into effect. Researchers are learning more about the benefits of lane splitting, which could make it more common throughout the U.S. Continue to do your research over time to make sure you are complying with the law. 

a biker splitting lanes in a traffic jam in a city

Outside of the U.S.

If you live outside the U.S., you may be in luck. Lane splitting is legal throughout most of Europe. The same is true of many developing countries where motorcycles are the main form of transportation, including Bangkok, Thailand and Indonesia.

Lane splitting is a great way to get where you’re going in a hurry, but you should never put your safety at risk just to save time. Wear Bluetooth motorcycle speakers that let you access your phone hands-free while riding. You can call for help in an emergency without moving your arms or hands. 

Stay safe on the road and consider moving to California if you love splitting lanes.