KNOW THE LAW: LANE SPLITTING IN VIRGINIA
LANE SPLITTING? What the heck is that? Lane splitting is a practice that is gaining popularity around the country that facilitates the movement of motorcycles through traffic under certain circumstances more safely and efficiently. So far, lane splitting is legal only in California, where the State Highway Patrol has adopted guidelines permitting the practice, in the absence of any law prohibiting it.
So what exactly is lane splitting? It is the allowance of motorcycles to progress past automobiles by riding between two lanes of traffic flowing in the same direction. It is also known as white-lining (riding on the white dividing line), stripe-riding, and filtering.
California and other western states such as Washington, Oregon, and Nevada, are considering laws to allow and regulate lane splitting. The common factor is that maximum speeds at which splitting could occur would be established. For example, an early version of California’s proposed law stated that the cars being passed could be travelling at no more than 30 miles per hour, and the motorcycle doing the passing could be going no more than 10 miles per hour faster than the cars.
Unlike California, Virginia has a statute that prohibits lane splitting. Virginia State Code makes it illegal for a vehicle to travel abreast of another vehicle that is travelling in a lane designed for one vehicle. Motorcycles are exempt from this prohibition only to the extent that two motorcycles may travel abreast of one another within a lane designed for one vehicle.
Change.org in Virginia is sponsoring a petition to encourage the state legislature to enact a new law permitting lane splitting. The group is over halfway to its goal of 5,000 signatures. According to the organization, studies have shown that lane splitting, when done at no more than 10 miles an hour faster than car traffic, poses no greater threat to cyclists or motorists.
Motorcycling can be dangerous when motorists are not driving carefully. Too often, car drivers are inattentive to motorcycles on the road. One of the benefits of lane splitting is that it helps remove the risk of motorcyclists being struck while stopped behind cars in traffic. If you have been injured on your motorcycle, call toll free 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial consultation or you may also contact us online at www.sandlerlaw.net by email at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net.