Is Lane splitting Legal in Washington State?

a motorcyclist holds his helmet while standing next to his motorcycle on an empty roadAs we head into springtime, car’s may find themselves sharing the roads more and more with motorcyclists. Whether you’re a driver or a motorcyclist, it’s important to stay be aware of the laws meant to keep you and other motorists safe. 

In California, lane splitting is legal and practiced on Californian highways. But is lane splitting legal in Washington state? In this post we’ll take a look at what lane splitting is, the dangerous of it, and we’ll answer the question, ‘is lane splitting legal in Washington?’

What is lane splitting

Lane splitting is a practice that allows motorcyclists to drive in between traffic lanes and pass on the shoulders when traffic is crawling or at a standstill. The idea behind it is to help prevent motorcyclists from being rear ended or from rear ending other motorists, and keeps motorcycles from overheating while idling. 

Is lane splitting legal in Washington State?

So, is lane splitting legal in Washington State. 

In a word, no. 

California is the only state in which lane splitting is considered ‘legal’. In reality, lane splitting isn’t explicitly stated as legal in California. However, it also isn’t explicitly stated as ‘illegal’, hence why motorcyclists are permitted to do it. Nearly every other state has laws explicating banning lane splitting. There are 5 states currently considering adopting lane splitting laws as well. These are: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oregon, and Texas. 

In 2016 Bill 5623 was heard by the Washington Senate Transportation Committee. If passed, this law would provide altered legality for lane splitting. This law would all motorcyclists to pass on the far left shoulder during times of severe congestion. In the end, the legislation passed the Senate but was not approved by the House. 

Dangers of lane splitting

There are clear dangerous that come with lane splitting. Lane splitting can increase the likelihood of motorcyclists being side-swiped.
There also isn’t extensive evidence that the practice of lane splitting actually has any significant impact on reducing the number of rear-ending accidents involving motorcycles. Between 2012 and 2016, only 21 incidents of motorcycles being rear-ended were reported. 

Staying safe on Washington highways

Whether you’re a motorcyclist or a car driver, the best way to stay safe on Washington highways is to obey state and local traffic laws. For motorcyclists, don’t lane-split and maintain a safe following distance from vehicles ahead of you. 

Other motorists also have a duty to take extra care when driving around motorcyclists. Give yourself plenty of space to slow to a stop. This can cut the chance of you getting rear ended or rear ending someone. 

Regardless of what you drive or ride, practicing defensive driving is the best line of defense to prevent an accident. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident or motor vehicle, contact a dedicated attorney Evergreen Personal Injury Council. We’ll help you receive the financial compensation you deserve.