Is Lane Splitting Legal in Illinois and Why?

What is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is when a motorcycle drives between two occupied lanes, typically during heavy traffic. It also has a couple of other nicknames: whitelining and stripe-riding, since the bike rides on the white stripes that divide lanes. People tend to lane split during heavy gridlock or slow-moving traffic to get ahead of others and save time. However, it can be extremely dangerous; during slow, congested traffic, lane changes tend to happen fairly spontaneously. In gridlock traffic, particularly during road closures, it’s not uncommon for car occupants to open their doors to stretch their legs or get a better view of the situation ahead. Any impact, even in slow traffic, with another vehicle can cause severe injuries or even death to motorcyclists.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Illinois?

No, lane splitting is not legal in Illinois. The State of Illinois does not have any specific lane-splitting law in the books, but standard right-of-way laws do prohibit it. Due to the right-of-way laws, it is considered a traffic violation, which will result in a ticket if you are caught doing it. Keep in mind that lane splitting is not the same as lane sharing. Lane sharing is riding side-by-side with another vehicle in the same lane, whereas lane splitting is specifically riding ahead of stopped or slow traffic between the lanes.

Getting into a crash while lane splitting is a misdemeanor in Illinois, as that party is at-fault. But it can turn into a felony if such recklessness results in the death or serious injury of another.

Where is Lane Splitting Legal?

The only state in the US that explicitly allows lane splitting is California. While it is not the safest practice, it may come as no surprise that lane splitting is legal if you’ve ever sat in L.A. traffic before. Other states such as Utah have taken measures to help motorcyclists bypass dense traffic, but no state has outright legalized lane splitting thus far. Washington and Oregon have also notably considered legislation that may legalize it but have not passed yet.

Lane Splitting, Lane Sharing, Lane Filtering: What’s the Difference?

Although some people use these three terms interchangeably, they are not at all the same — particularly in a legal setting.

  • Lane Splitting: When a motorcyclist rides the white line between two lanes during heavy, slow, or gridlock traffic to bypass it.
  • Lane Sharing: When two motorcyclists ride side-by-side in the same lane.
  • Lane Filtering: When a motorcyclist weaves between cars as they travel to get ahead. This is not when traffic is heavy, but rather during regular traffic flow.

Call A Personal Injury Attorney if You’ve Been in An Accident With a Lane Splitter in Illinois

Getting in a crash because of a lane splitter’s negligence could mean that you are entitled to monetary damages. 

Brian Lewis is an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney who has helped families and victims of auto accidents achieve justice since 1997. He will walk you through every step of the process, lifting the burden off your shoulders and giving you the knowledgeable representation that you and/or your loved ones deserve. Brian’s litigation experience and passion to hold people accountable have allowed him to win more than $100 million in damages throughout the course of his career.

He is ready to help you too.

Give The Lewis Law Firm a call today if you’ve been in a crash with a lane splitter in Illinois.

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