motorcycles riding between cars
Motorcycles take up less space on the road than a passenger vehicle and can maneuver into tight spots that a vehicle can’t. When traffic is slow, some motorcyclists want to split the lane by riding on the white line. This allows them to shoot ahead and could reduce congestion.

Lane splitting is also safer for motorcyclists, which are at a high risk of getting rear-ended at a traffic light. Many motorists are not paying attention or looking for motorcycles, and they end up rear-ending bikers as they approach a red light. By lane splitting, the motorcycle is flanked by a car on either side at the intersection, which reduces the chances of getting hit by an inattentive driver.

As a leading Yakima law firm, many clients ask us, “Is lane splitting legal in Washington?” Unfortunately, lane splitting is not legal in the state of Washington, and any offender could be fined.

Washington Has Not Legalized Lane Splitting

Around 2017, Washington’s legislature considered whether to allow lane splitting. Discussion had begun in 214 to amend the law, and it seemed (for a while) that the legislature would finally take up the mantle and allow lane splitting.

Senate Bill 5378 would have allowed lane splitting in certain situations, and it passed the Senate. However, it did not pass the House, which might be news to some people.

Media coverage on this issue has been spotty. Search for “lane splitting Washington” and a ton of stories show up that were written around the time that the Senate adopted the bill. Far fewer stories, however, appeared when the Washington House rejected the bill. As a result, some motorcyclists seem to think that lane splitting is legal simply because the Senate approved it.

As of December 2018, lane splitting is legal only in California, which passed a bill to allow the practice. If you want to lane split, head on down to the Golden State and enjoy yourself. Otherwise, lane splitting can warrant a ticket.

Why Lane Splitting is Controversial

One proposed benefit of lane splitting is that it reduces congestion. Motorists will use the unused space on the road, thus reducing the amount of time it takes motorists to get through intersections and on to their destinations.

However, one reason states have not adopted lane splitting is that the number of motorcycles on the road are too few to provide any benefits to congestion. Traffic is congested in the United States for other reasons, not because there are a lot of motorcycles, so letting bikers lane split will not reduce congestion. Things might be different in other countries, where mopeds and motorcycles are more common.

Lane splitting might offer safety protection to motorcyclists. As discussed above, by lane splitting, bikers can reduce the chances of getting rear-ended at an intersection. Some evidence suggests that bikers in California suffer a lower risk of rear-end collisions than bikers in comparable states, like Florida or Texas. Lane splitting advocates point to this evidence in support of their claim that the practice should be legal.

Injured by a Motorcyclist? Contact Us

Although lane splitting is illegal in Washington, many motorcyclists continue to wedge themselves in between cars. As a result, they increase the risk of striking someone, including pedestrians in crosswalks or motorists exiting their vehicles.

If you have been struck, you might be entitled to compensation. Motorcyclists who do not obey the rules of the road have certainly been careless, and they probably must pay you compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.

Contact Kapuza Lighty today. We have years of experience representing injured motorists just like you, and we want to hear from you. Please call to schedule your free initial case evaluation. You have no reason to delay.

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