Depending on how it is practiced, lane splitting can be a safe alternative to stop-and-go traffic or a dangerous way to ride a motorcycle. Safety also has little to do with legality, and lane splitting is illegal in some states.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Also called stripe-riding and white lining, lane splitting occurs when a motorcycle rides between 2 lanes of stopped or slowly moving cars traveling the same direction.
Why Do Motorcyclists Split Lanes?
Motorcyclists may practice lane splitting to get around traffic and save time – or to keep themselves safe from rear-end accidents. In heavy traffic, it may be safer for motorcyclists to be between 2 slow-moving or stopped vehicles than behind a stopped car.
“Lane-splitting riders were significantly less likely to be rear-ended than other non-lane-splitting riders.”
Because a rear-end accident could seriously injure or kill a motorcyclist, lane splitting may be a safer practice for motorcyclists stuck in traffic.
Nevertheless, some motorcyclists split lanes when traffic is moving at a reasonable speed, thus driving aggressively and frightening drivers who may not see or expect a motorcyclist to be traveling between lanes. Speeding and aggressive driving are always dangerous.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Connecticut?
No, lane splitting is illegal in Connecticut. Although lane splitting is officially legal in California, and some states look the other way and do not specifically address lane splitting in their legislation, Connecticut has a section (Sec. 14-289b) that makes lane splitting illegal.
The law reads as follows:
“(a) The operator of a motorcycle shall be entitled to the full use of any single traffic lane, but the operation of more than two motorcycles abreast in any single traffic lane is prohibited.
(b) The operator of a motorcycle shall not (1) overtake and pass, in the same single traffic lane occupied by such motorcycle, any motor vehicle other than a motorcycle, or (2) operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic. An autocycle shall not overtake and pass any motor vehicle operating in the same single traffic lane occupied by such autocycle.”
Essentially, no more than 2 motorcycles can occupy a lane of traffic at any given time, and any kind of lane splitting is illegal.
Although Connecticut is working on a bill (SB-629) to legalize lane splitting, motorcyclists in the state should not split lanes until the bill is passed. Not only could you get pulled over and ticketed but breaking the law could also jeopardize any insurance claim you need to make in the event of a motorcycle accident.
Who Is Liable for a Lane Splitting Accident?
If you split lanes in Connecticut, you could be found liable for any accident that occurs, especially if traffic is moving faster than 30 mph or you are careless while splitting lanes.
Still, drivers who do something more dangerous – or more illegal – than lane splitting can still face liability. If you were struck by a drunk or distracted driver, or someone changed lanes without signaling or checking their blind spot, you may still be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
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