Is Lane Splitting Legal? List of States

Jun 9, 2024

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lane splitting Is Lane Splitting Legal? List of States

Riding offers a sense of freedom that's hard to match with other forms of transportation, but it also requires awareness and respect for specific traffic laws to ensure safety. One of the most debated topics among motorcyclists across the United States is lane splitting—riding between lanes of traffic. This practice can save time and help avoid accidents in congested areas, but it's not universally accepted or legal for that matter. 

In this blog, we'll explore the states where lane splitting is legal, the differences between lane splitting and lane filtering, and provide you with essential tips for riding safely and legally when renting a motorcycle through platforms like Riders Share.

Quick Overview: What’s Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is where motorcyclists ride between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. Its legality varies by location, and while it can reduce traffic congestion and prevent rear-end collisions for motorcyclists, it also raises safety concerns due to the unexpected close proximity of vehicles. Guidelines are often provided (Speed limit limits, which roads) where lane splitting is legal to ensure the safety of all road users.

Lane Splitting vs. Lane Filtering

Before we start listing all of the United States and which ones lane splitting is legal or illegal in, we have to make another distinction. For many states, lane filtering is now legal. Lane splitting and lane filtering are two practices often confused (they are not interchangeable), but they differ slightly in terms of when and how they're executed by motorcyclists:

  • Lane Splitting: This involves a motorcyclist riding between lanes of traffic that are moving in the same direction. It’s typically done in slow-moving or stopped traffic, such as in traffic jams.
  • Lane Filtering: Lane filtering occurs when a motorcyclist moves between lanes of traffic at intersections, usually when vehicles are stopped at traffic lights. This allows the motorcyclist to reach the front of traffic and proceed quickly when the light changes.

Both practices aim to save time and prevent accidents, but their legality varies by state. Lane filtering is seen as slightly less risky. It’s legalized in more areas than lane splitting because it typically occurs at lower speeds and in specific scenarios like traffic lights.

States Where Lane Splitting Is Legal

The below states have laws specifically passed to legalize lane splitting, or potentially no law (not legal or illegal). Always ride with your local state laws in mind and stay up to date. Some states without lane splitting laws may or may not be more keen to hand out citations for reckless driving. The laws where lane splitting is currently legal in the United States are California, Montana, and Utah. States like Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Nebraska don’t have laws, and it’s a bit of a grey area where it’s generally not considered illegal. 

  • California: Lane splitting is legal in California. In fact, it’s illegal for anyone to try and impede or block a motorcyclist from safely operating the bike. 
  • Delaware: As of 2024, there is no law stating whether it’s legal or illegal. So yes, you can split lanes, and it’s not illegal. 
  • Kentucky: Technically, there’s no law against or for it. It doesn’t mean a police officer won’t pull you over for driving recklessly or unsafely. They can still legally issue a citation.
  • Mississippi: Currently no law against lane splitting in Mississippi- it’s up to law enforcement to use their discretion to give you a ticket. 
  • Montana: Lane splitting is legal in Montana under certain conditions (stay within 10 mph of ambient traffic, wide lanes, and safe riding practices are required).
  • Nebraska: Nebraska law does not specifically say lane splitting is illegal.
  • Utah: As of 2019, both lane splitting and lane filtering are legal in Utah. However, you can only do this if the posted speed limit is below 45 mph, and you can’t split lanes on freeways. 

States Where Lane Filtering Only is Legal

lane filtering Is Lane Splitting Legal? List of States

The current states where lane filtering is legal in the United States are Arizona, Colorado, and New Jersey, Utah, California, and Montana. Remember, traffic must be stopped, and you must follow your state’s individual laws on how to legally lane filter. The below states are states where only lane filtering is allowed- no lane splitting. 

  • Arizona: Lane Filtering is legal in Arizona, which allows motorcyclists to filter between stopped vehicles under specific conditions (under 45 mph areas, all cars must be stopped, max 2 lane road, no freeways, etc). 
  • Colorado: While lane splitting is strictly prohibited in Colorado, lane filtering is now legal as long as all cars are stopped (starting August 7th, 2024), you’re going under 15 mph, and you’re riding safely. It’s also illegal to drive on the shoulder. 
  • New Jersey: New Jersey passed a bill in 2022 permitting lane filtering under 15 mph. Lane splitting is not permitted. 

States Where Lane Splitting Is Illegal

  • Alabama: Lane splitting and filtering is not legal in Alabama. The Alabama Motorcycle Manual prohibits lane sharing and maintains that each vehicle on the road needs its own lane. You can’t ride between lanes because of this. 
  • Alaska: Lane splitting is illegal in Alaska. Motorcycles are prohibited from overtaking vehicles in the same lane or driving between lanes of traffic, though lane sharing up to two abreast is allowed.
  • Arkansas: While not explicitly mentioned in the law, lane splitting is assumed to be prohibited in Arkansas.
  • Connecticut: Lane splitting is illegal in Connecticut, where no more than two motorcycles may occupy a single lane.
  • Florida: Florida law explicitly prohibits lane splitting, forbidding motorcycles from operating between lanes of traffic or rows of vehicles.
  • Georgia: Lane splitting is illegal in Georgia, and riders may face fines and difficulties in damage recovery if they lane split and are involved in an accident.
  • Hawaii: Lane plitting or filtering is illegal in Hawaii, but motorcyclists are allowed to ride on the shoulder to pass stopped vehicles on roads with at least two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction, a practice known as shoulder surfing.
  • Idaho: Lane sharing with any vehicle, including lane splitting and filtering, is illegal in Idaho. Motorcyclists must also ensure their handlebars are unobstructed and that motorcycles carrying passengers are equipped with a permanent seat and footrests.
  • Illinois: Lane splitting is explicitly illegal in Illinois, and in the event of a crash involving lane splitting, the motorcyclist often carries the burden of proof. .
  • Indiana: Lane splitting is prohibited in Indiana due to safety concerns, as it is considered dangerous and potentially deadly.
  • Iowa: In Iowa, lane splitting is illegal, and motorcyclists are required to follow the same passing procedures as other vehicles.
  • Kansas: Lane splitting is not allowed in Kansas, although two motorcycles may legally share a lane side by side.
  • Louisiana: Lane splitting is illegal in Louisiana, and although some states are considering legislation to allow it under specific conditions, it remains prohibited outside of California.
  • Maine: Lane splitting is expressly illegal in Maine, with state statutes prohibiting motorcycles from operating between lanes or rows of vehicles.
  • Maryland: Motorcyclists are not allowed to ride between lanes in Maryland, making lane splitting illegal regardless of traffic conditions.
  • Massachusetts: Under Massachusetts law, lane splitting is illegal.
  • Michigan: Motorcyclists in Michigan are entitled to a full lane and can ride two abreast, but lane splitting is prohibited.
  • Minnesota: Lane splitting is considered reckless and dangerous and is, therefore, illegal in Minnesota.
  • Missouri: There is no law against or for lane splitting in Missouri, but be aware it’s considered unsafe driving practice and should be avoided. 
  • Nevada: Lane splitting is illegal in Nevada, preventing motorcyclists from maneuvering between lanes, even in congested or slow-moving traffic.
  • New Hampshire: Both lane splitting and lane filtering are illegal in New Hampshire, with potential hefty fines and penalties for those caught engaging in these practices.
  • New Mexico: Lane splitting is prohibited in New Mexico, where motorcyclists are required to stay in a single lane unless overtaking another vehicle.
  • New York: New York law specifically outlaws lane splitting, prohibiting motorcyclists from driving between traffic lanes or rows of vehicles.
  • North Carolina: Lane splitting is illegal in North Carolina, as the practice is deemed unsafe and leaves motorcyclists vulnerable to injuries.
  • North Dakota: In North Dakota, lane splitting is explicitly prohibited to ensure that all vehicles have full use of their lane.
  • Ohio: Lane splitting is illegal in Ohio, considered unsafe, and not permitted when navigating through stalled or slow-moving traffic.
  • Oklahoma: Lane splitting is illegal in Oklahoma due to the risks it poses to both motorcyclists and other motorists.
  • Oregon: In Oregon, lane splitting is illegal and discouraged due to the reduced safety margin it creates for motorcyclists.
  • Pennsylvania: Lane splitting is currently illegal in Pennsylvania, prohibiting motorcyclists from weaving between lanes of moving traffic.
  • Rhode Island: Rhode Island law prohibits lane splitting, requiring motorcycle operators to ride within designated traffic lanes.
  • South Carolina: Lane splitting is specifically banned in South Carolina, despite being a common practice in areas where it's neither explicitly legal nor illegal.
  • South Dakota: Lane splitting is not permitted in South Dakota, especially noted during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally where fines are enforced for violations.
  • Tennessee: Lane splitting is illegal in Tennessee, with riders advised to avoid riding between lanes even in traffic jams.
  • Texas: Lane splitting is illegal in Texas, with state laws requiring all motorists, including motorcyclists, to drive within a single lane.
  • Vermont: Lane splitting is not legal in Vermont, with motorcycles entitled to the full use of a traffic lane.
  • Virginia: Lane splitting remains illegal in Virginia, except when motorcyclists are safely passing another vehicle.
  • Washington: Lane splitting is illegal in Washington State, with ongoing debates about its legality.
  • West Virginia: West Virginia does not explicitly outlaw lane splitting, but vehicles are required to stay within a single lane as much as practicable.
  • Wisconsin: Lane splitting is illegal across Wisconsin.
  • Wyoming: All forms of lane splitting are prohibited in Wyoming, with specific statutes forbidding motorcycles from operating between lanes or rows of vehicles.

States That Are Considering Passing Laws on Lane Splitting

lane splitting 2 Is Lane Splitting Legal? List of States

Several states in the US are currently considering legislation related to motorcycle lane splitting. These include:

  • Connecticut:  Connecticut is reviewing Senate Bill 629, which proposes to legalize a regulated form of lane splitting. Granted, this was in 2019, and since then, there hasn’t been much traction. 
  • Maryland:  A bill is under consideration in Maryland aiming to legalize a regulated form of lane splitting. (Another one with little to no updates since 2019)
  • Oregon:  A bill is being considered which would allow motorcycles to travel between cars on roadways where the speed limit is 50 mph or greater and traffic is moving at 10 mph or slower.
  • Texas:  A bill is under consideration proposing that motorcycles move between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic at no more than 25 mph.
  • Washington:  Another bill is being reviewed, seeking to legalize a regulated form of lane splitting.

Rent a Motorcycle With Riders Share & Stay Informed With Local Laws

When renting a motorcycle through Riders Share- whether you’re traveling internationally or domestically, or even just a local rider- you have to understand and respect the local traffic laws, including those about lane splitting and filtering. Riders Share offers a variety of motorcycles suitable for different levels of experience and provides guidance on safe riding practices. Always make sure you’re aware of local laws to avoid fines and improve your safety on the road. 

Bottom Line

Whether you're an experienced rider or new to riding, moved states, or just visiting somewhere new- understanding the laws around lane splitting is essential for safe and legal riding. While some states are considering legislation to permit lane splitting under regulated conditions, it remains illegal in most places. Always stay informed about the latest traffic laws in your area and ride safely, respecting both the law and your fellow road users.