January 17, 2023 | Oklahoma Law
Lane splitting and lane filtering are two common practices among motorcyclists. But before you take off between two lines of cars, you should be aware of Oklahoma laws regarding lane splitting and lane filtering, as well as the legal consequences you can face if you end up in a motorcycle accident that happens while you’re lane splitting.
If you do find yourself in a lane-splitting accident, you should protect yourself by speaking with an Oklahoma motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Breaking motorcycle laws puts you at risk of being found at fault for a motorcycle accident — which can leave you facing serious legal and financial consequences.
Lane Splitting and Filtering: What’s the Difference?
Lane splitting and lane filtering are both driving strategies used by motorcyclists to bypass congested or slow traffic. Although they are similar, there are some differences between the two practices.
Lane splitting refers to driving between two lanes of traffic along the dotted line that separates two lanes. A biker might do this to make their way through a congested road, although it’s also a way of simply overtaking two other cars when one is blocking faster traffic by sitting in the left lane.
Lane filtering is often considered to be a type of lane splitting, but it’s slightly different. Filtering occurs in congested traffic when a motorcyclist overtakes other vehicles by weaving between lanes, jumping ahead of the lines by making a series of passes into spots further ahead in an adjacent lane.
Oklahoma Laws on Lane Splitting and Filtering
Lane splitting is illegal in Oklahoma and most other states. Lane filtering is a bit more complex — Oklahoma law makes no specific mention of lane filtering. Typically, lane filtering is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If a motorcyclist is safely passing other vehicles by making legitimate lane changes, they likely won’t find themselves in trouble. However, when lane filtering involves driving along the dotted line to pass side-by-side vehicles, it can cross the line into lane splitting.
Lane filtering is a particularly popular maneuver in situations involving:
- Red lights
- Stop lights
- Traffic jams
- Slow moving traffic
- High-volume merging areas
- Construction zones
However, if other cars are stopped, an attempt at lane filtering can easily lead to lane splitting. A good policy for Oklahoma bikers is to err on the side of caution. When in doubt, it’s safer to wait in traffic with other vehicles than risk a ticket — or worse, an accident.
Lane Splitting and Fault in an Oklahoma Accident
The question of whether motorcycle practices like lane splitting are safe or not brings up plenty of dissension. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) officially endorses lane splitting as a practice that increases biker safety.
Motorcycle accidents are often caused by drivers of larger vehicles who fail to see a nearby biker, and practices like lane splitting are often believed to support motorcycle safety by helping bikers get clear of congested traffic.
Studies on practices like lane splitting have led to changes in laws for some states — in California, lane splitting is now legal, while Utah law recognizes and allows lane filtering as a legal driving maneuver.
However, a motorcyclist should always know and follow the laws of the state in which they’re driving.
If an Oklahoma motorcyclist is involved in an accident while lane splitting, they can be found at fault for the accident, even if they didn’t cause it. Breaking the law puts you at a serious disadvantage in areas like insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits.
Regardless of whether you believe lane splitting is safe, it’s always safest to protect yourself legally and financially by following Oklahoma’s motorcycle laws.
Contact the Oklahoma City Car Accident Lawyers at McGuire Law Firm Today for Free Consultation
We serve throughout Oklahoma and its surrounding areas: