Is Lane Splitting Legal in VA?

Lane Splitting

Lane-splitting has long been a hot topic among motorcyclists and other road users. Some believe it is dangerous to motorcycle operators and other road users, while others argue it enhances motorcycle safety. 

This article discusses the legality of lane-splitting in Virginia and how lane-splitting could affect a motorcycle accident case. 

What Is Lane-Splitting?

Lane-splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two same-direction traffic lanes. Some motorcyclists do this when they are stuck in traffic as a way to navigate around slowed or stopped vehicles. Lane-splitting is often confused with lane-sharing, which is when two motorcyclists share the same lane. 

Does Virginia Law Allow Lane-Splitting?

Lane-splitting is illegal in Virginia. While motorcyclists can leave their lane to pass other vehicles, they cannot ride between lanes of traffic. Lane-splitting in Virginia is considered reckless driving, a misdemeanor offense punishable by jail time and fines. 

Is Lane-Splitting Safe or Dangerous?

The safety of lane-splitting is a controversial topic. Some argue that it is dangerous because motorists may fail to notice lane-splitting motorcyclists and change lanes into their path. Distracted drivers, inexperienced motorcyclists, and the danger of side-swipe accidents have all been cited as reasons lane-splitting should not be permitted. 

However, lane-splitting can also decrease road congestion and potentially enhance safety for motorcyclists. By lane-splitting, motorcyclists can avoid being rear-ended by approaching drivers who are not paying attention or are driving too fast for conditions. In other words, it allows them an escape route. 

In fact, according to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), that is corroborated by the University of California, Berkeley. Researchers there found that lane-splitting in California – the one state where the practice is legal – improves motorcycle safety. 

What Happens If You Are Involved in a Motorcycle Accident When Lane-Splitting?

If you get injured in a motorcycle crash while you are lane-splitting, you could be found partly liable for the accident. Virginia uses a pure contributory negligence rule to determine liability in a car accident. If you are found to be even 1 percent at fault for a crash, you will be barred from recovering any compensation in court. 

Can You Recover Damages After a Lane-Splitting Accident in Virginia?

If lane-splitting did not contribute to the accident, you might be able to pursue compensation for your injuries. However, because lane-splitting is unlawful in Virginia, the fact that you were violating a traffic law at the time of the crash could mean that you are partly responsible for it and any resulting injuries. If that is the case, you would be barred from seeking compensation. 

However, whether you are in any way at fault is open to debate. That’s why it’s crucial to speak to an experienced attorney who can determine whether you have a viable case. 

Our Virginia Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Are Ready to Help You

Were you injured in a motorcycle accident in Virginia through no fault of your own? If so, you might be entitled to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost income, emotional trauma, and other losses you suffered. 

Contact a Virginia motorcycle accident lawyer at the law firm of Arrington Schelin for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.