Is Lane Splitting Legal in Massachusetts?

Lane splitting is often a topic of debate amongst highway drivers. It can get motorcycle drivers through traffic faster and easier, as motorcycles are harder to maneuver in stop-and-go traffic. But, it can also put them at greater risk of an accident. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to report a claim.

Lane splitting in highway traffic

What Is Lane Splitting?

In heavy traffic, motorcycle riders often continue driving between the lanes that are moving in the same direction as them. This is referred to as lane splitting. When traffic causes cars to slow down or stop-and-go frequently, motorcycles often try to weave through the lanes to get to their destination without having to wait in the long traffic. However, there are plenty of drivers that argue that this is a dangerous practice, with some states enforcing laws that prohibit lane splitting. 

Does Lane Splitting Cause More Accidents?

When motorcycles are moving much faster than the flow of traffic, the odds of a motorcycle accident increase significantly. Unlike cars, motorcyclists don’t have the protection of their vehicle surrounding them. When accidents occur, they can cause serious bodily injuries and sometimes fatalities to the motorcycle rider. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 15% of all traffic fatalities in 2022 were motorcyclists. 

With lane splitting, motorcycles moving fast through slow or stopped traffic experience increased risks that could lead to an accident. Slow traffic often causes drivers to want to continuously switch into lanes that they believe are moving faster. Because of the heavy amount of traffic on the highway, switching lanes is often done hastily. Motorcycles moving fast between lanes cannot stop fast enough if a car is switching lanes abruptly. In other instances, if a driver was to open their door in stopped traffic, they could hit a motorcycle moving too fast for them to anticipate. 

Why Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?

Lane splitting allows less space for motorcyclists to maneuver between other traffic. This makes them more vulnerable to accidents with vehicles on either side of the tight space. Because motorcyclists are moving faster than the flow of traffic, it is harder for both motorcyclists and cars around them to anticipate the lane splitting. Many states have laws prohibiting lane splitting to protect the safety of motorcyclists on the road. Massachusetts is one such state where it is illegal for motorcycles to split lanes. 

Can Motorcycles Split Lanes?

Massachusetts prohibits motorcycles from splitting lanes under MGL ch. 89 § 4A. Motorcyclists who are injured in an accident due to lane splitting in Massachusetts are oftentimes the negligent driver responsible since it is prohibited. This can make it harder for motorcyclists to seek compensation for their injuries, even if they believe another driver was at fault. Drivers around a motorcycle that is splitting lanes can also experience both bodily injuries and damage to their vehicle in an accident caused by lane splitting. 

What Happens After a Lane Splitting Accident Occurs?

After a motorcycle accident, it is important to file a police report and collect statements from witnesses around the scene of the accident. Statements and police reports can serve as crucial evidence when filing a claim. Contact an attorney as soon as possible if you are a victim of a car accident. They can help represent you and walk you through the legal proceedings that may follow.   

A personal injury attorney can help you receive compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages due to injury, damages to your vehicle, and more. The sooner they are with you following an accident, the better they will be able to help you defend your case. 



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