Is Lane Splitting Legal in Colorado? 2022 Update

Colorado Lane Splitting

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

May 3, 2023

Is it Legal to Lane Split in Colorado?

Lane splitting is not currently legal in Colorado. 

Splitting lanes, white-lining, and stripe-riding are all examples of lane splitting. There are various labels for the activity, but if you ride a motorcycle, you’re probably already acquainted with them.

However, one of the most common queries we get from motorcycle riders is whether lane splitting is permissible. Is it possible to claim compensation for an injury sustained when lane splitting if it isn’t legal? These are reasonable concerns concerning a problem that state governments and transportation organizations have discussed for many years.

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What Is Lane Splitting and How Does It Work?

Lane splitting is a typical technique used by motorcyclists to get around slower-moving traffic, bypassing between cars heading in the same direction in neighboring travel lanes. Lane sharing, which happens when two or more motorcyclists ride side by side in a single traffic lane, is sometimes mistaken with this practice.

Lane splitting is sometimes mistaken with lane filtering, which includes driving between cars in two adjacent travel lanes only when stopped, such as at a traffic signal.

The Negative Aspects of the Split

A car that seeks to change lanes without signaling or verifying the travel lane is free is a typical lane-splitting hazard. In dense traffic, drivers may drift closer to the dividing lines between lanes without recognizing that a motorcycle is coming into that area.

In general, motorcycle riding requires a greater degree of skill, training, and awareness of one’s surroundings than other pursuits. Riders must guarantee that they can get safely lane split, which increases the requirement for attentiveness. This must consider the width of the lanes, traffic speed, and the size of the cars that the rider wishes to overtake.

Benefits of Lane Splitting that have been mentioned

Motorcyclists may lane split to save time stalled in traffic by riding between lanes and moving swiftly through crowded regions. According to a study by the Texas Traffic Institute, the typical  metropolitan commuter spends 42 hours per year trapped in traffic. Lane splitting reduces that time in half, saving lane-splitting motorcyclists around 21 hours each year.

Avoid rear-ended by a car that fails to see the biker stopping or slowing for traffic ahead. For motorcyclists traveling in traffic, being sandwiched between stopped and moving cars is a typical hazard.

It is easier for the rider to continue going through crowded places than being at a literal standstill: standing and holding his or her bike up until traffic starts to move again since the cars provide insulation.

Where is Lane Splitting Permitted?

While numerous states have tried for years to establish criteria to make lane splitting acceptable in some instances, only California has passed laws making it legal.

California’s rule, which was passed in 2016, permits motorcyclists to switch lanes if they drive less than 50 miles per hour and the speed disparity between the motorcycle and the cars it is overtaking is less than 15 miles per hour.

Several other states do not declare lane-splitting officially permissible or illegal, leaving it up to local governments or law enforcement to decide. New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina are among those states. In certain places, lane splitting is expressly prohibited.

Similar lane-splitting actions are permitted in certain places, including Utah and Hawaii. Utah recently enacted laws permitting lane filtering, which allows a motorcycle to travel between lanes only on roads with speed limits of less than 45 miles per hour and traffic that has come to a complete stop.

While Hawaii’s small roads do not allow for lane splitting, motorcyclists can ride on the road shoulder to avoid the dangers of traffic congestion.

Other state proposals that attempt to legalize lane splitting include one that only allows it on roads with lowered speed limits and if the difference in speed between the motorcycle and other cars is no more than 15 miles per hour.

The UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research Center performed a study that revealed that lane splitting is rather safe under these circumstances. The risk of injury rises drastically as the speed of the cars and the disparity in car speeds grows.

What Happens If You’re Injured While Lane Splitting by a Careless Driver?

Like other road users, motorcyclists have the right to seek compensation for the costs and psychological effects of injuries sustained as a result of someone else’s irresponsible or dangerous behavior. You may still claim compensation if you were lane-splitting at the time of the accident. However, the impact of lane splitting on the amount of compensation you are entitled to get is determined by the rules in your state.

Demonstrating Liability

In order to establish guilt in a motorcycle accident lawsuit, you must show that:

The person who was at fault owed you a duty of care. The activities that a reasonable person would have done in identical circumstances are the duty of care. A motorist has a responsibility to other road users to operate his or her car safely and lawfully.

There was a violation of the duty of care. The breach refers to the at-fault party’s conduct (or omission) that broke the duty of care. For example, if a distracted driver failed to check his or her blind spot before changing lanes and struck your motorcycle, distracted driving would be a breach of the duty of care because it is not safe behavior.

The breach resulted in the accident that caused your injuries, as well as financial and quality-of-life consequences.

Damages that are currently available

Most jurisdictions enable accident victims to seek compensation for both monetary and nonmonetary losses. To be clear: Damage is a legal word that refers to monetary payment to compensate for an injury. Non-economic damages compensate you for your accident’s effects on your quality of life, whereas economic damages compensate you for your out-of-pocket costs.

Medical expenses, such as emergency treatment at the scene or in an emergency department; transportation to the hospital via ambulance or air ambulance; hospitalization; diagnostic testing; surgical and physician services; prescription medication; physical therapy and rehabilitation; and the provision of assistive devices such as a wheelchair, crutches, or prostheses are some of the most common expenses and impacts that appear on damage claims after motorcycle accidents.

Wages lost if you cannot work due to an injury or must miss work to attend injury-related medical appointments.

Loss of future earning potential if your injury leaves you permanently disabled and you cannot

work or earn as much as you did before the accident.

Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing your motorcycle and any other equipment that was damaged in the accident.

Physical pain and suffering due to the injury or especially harsh treatments for frequent motorcycle

accident injuries like burns.

Emotional anguish.

Loss of pleasure of life if you cannot engage in activities and events that you previously liked due to your injury.

An Attorney Can help your Lane Splitting Accident Case.

Many people, including those in the legal, insurance, and medical sectors, feel that motorcyclists are always responsible for an accident, particularly if they were lane splitting. This makes a lane-splitting case difficult to establish.

According to research, the general public is unaware of the many safety advantages of lane splitting or that it is typically safe for all road users at lower speeds. Motorcyclists who have been injured require professional counsel from a legal team that knows that riding a motorcycle is a popular pastime for many law-abiding persons, all of whom have the same right to seek compensation for injuries caused by others’ carelessness as anybody else.

Suppose you suspect you may have a case. In that case, a motorcycle accident attorney can provide you with additional information about these types of situations and help you decide whether or not to pursue legal action.

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