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Is Lane Splitting Legal in Massachusetts?

The legalities involved in lane splitting have been up for debate for years on end. Motorists like the constituting bodies remain divided on the topic.

While the jury is still out in other states, most have already illegalized the act of lane splitting as advised by the governing joint committee.

The highest joint committee of the United States, the U.S. Congress, strongly discourages this type of road-sharing, outlawing lane filtering in multiple states.

While lane splitting remains legal in California, the relevant legislative bills for sharing lanes are still pending approval in many other states like Connecticut, Maryland, and Utah. However, due to no laws being enacted by any of these states permitting splitting lanes, the restrictions on lane filtering are left unchanged.

The Statistics in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, traffic-related accidents are considered a significant concern by its governing body and people. Geographically, the state ranks 44th in land area but statistically ranks 10th in “vehicles per capita” in the United States.

According to the Census of 2016, Massachusetts had a population of 6.824 million and 2.3 million registered vehicles, not including motorcycles. The casualties involving vehicles are among the leading causes of death in Massachusetts, with reports of over 100 people severely or fatally injured per day.

Road Rules in Massachusetts

The higher number of road-related casualties within the state is attributed to accidents involving those driving under the influence, motorcyclists, and cyclists.

Road regulations and traffic laws have become a top priority in Massachusetts. The governing laws are implemented strictly in the hopes of lessening collisions and other accidents.

Important Reminder

Any act of road-sharing by a motorcyclist and those in other forms of transportation in Massachusetts is illegal and punishable by law according to Massachusetts General Laws > Part I > Title XIV > Chapter 89 > Section 4A.

The penalty and citation given to a motorcyclist or driver of other forms of transportation will differ following local ordinances.

What Does Lane Splitting Mean?

The act of splitting lanes, also known as white-lining, lane-filtering, or stripe riding, pertains to 2-wheeled-vehicles moving within the same lane in between cars going in the same direction during stopped or slow-moving traffic.

Dictionary Definition of Lane Splitting

“Motorcyclists and other bikers passing between lanes of traffic.”

Drivers of motorcycles and bicycle riders partake in lane splitting to remain mobile during traffic jams. Cars at a standstill or lowly paced permit motorcyclists and other riders of like vehicles to pass-through lanes of traffic, avoiding jams.

What Compels Motorcyclists or Cyclists to Partake in Lane Splitting

The congestion of cars within adjacent lanes can cause motor vehicles with four or more wheels such as cars, buses, trucks, and other vehicles to result in slowed traffic. The traffic moving slower or halting altogether can cause delays in anyone’s plans.

While some roads have two or more lanes, lane splitting specifically refers to multiple vehicles using a single lane. When one lane is used by two or more vehicles, one is stopped or slowly moving while another motor vehicle passes beside it creating split lanes.

Those Most Likely to Share a Lane

This is often done by motorcycle riders and other drivers of 2-wheeled vehicles to bypass inconveniences caused by traffic jams.

Riding Your Motorcycle or Bicycle in the Same Lane as Other Vehicles

Lane Splitting Involving a Motorcycle

The only laws that permit motorcyclists to ride abreast legally are found in California. The lane split between two motorcycles that ride side by side in the same lane is still considered lane splitting.

Two or more vehicles within the same white or yellow line painted on roads are considered lane splitting. The general laws in all other states require motorcycles to ride single file in two lanes adjacent to one another to avoid a potentially fatal accident.

The Circumstantial Considerations Extended to Motorcyclists Riding Abreast in the State of Massachusett

The state offers some leniency by allowing motorcyclists to ride side-by-side within one lane when no other motorists are on the road.

Additionally, the consideration may be extended situationally, depending on the lightness of traffic and the stability of its pace. It is deemed safer for motorcyclists to split lanes with fewer potential hazards.

This is the closest to riding abreast two motorcycles can get outside California.

Lane Splitting Involving a Bicycle

For cyclists riding a bike in larger groups, it is safer to take up more space with at least a meter’s distance from one another. However, cyclists must use the rightmost lane on roads with more lanes and fast-moving traffic.

It is also highly encouraged they ride in single files to avoid incurring any personal injury caused by the surrounding vehicles. Serious bodily harm or even the death of a cyclist can stem from reckless driving by any driver.

Why Lane Splitting is More Dangerous to Anyone on Two Wheels

A rear-ended bike or motorcycle by other motorists can cause its rider to spiral out of control into oncoming traffic and result in a severe accident or prompt a collision between other motor vehicles. Any bike leaves its rider more exposed to the surrounding elements and offers fewer safety features you would otherwise find inside a car, whether at a red light or in transit.

Various traffic lanes pose a more significant threat to a motorcyclist or cyclist than any other vehicle. A car can hit anyone riding a bike or motorcycle, and the person behind the wheel can come out unscathed, while the motorcyclist or cyclist can exhibit severe personal injury.

Why You Should Avoid Lane Filtering

Motorists can prevent an accident involving motorcyclists, bikers, and other vehicle operators by avoiding lane splitting. While it is understandable for those on motorcycles or bikes seeking convenience to opt for lane splitting, avoiding delays by lane filtering can be dangerous.

Motorcycles and other vehicles should avoid creating a lane split by refraining from using the same lane simultaneously as other motorists. Motorcycles should avoid squeezing through two lanes of traffic and adhere to road regulations on lane filtering to prioritize their protection and the safety of other surrounding drivers.

Tips on Riding Safely

  • For motorcyclists to ride safely through traffic and avoid unwarranted personal injury caused by accident:
  • Always be aware of what is considered legal and illegal by the local governing body.
  • Legal regulations are enacted for a reason and should not be taken lightly.
  • Any bill proposed regarding lane filtering is based on carefully analyzed statistics related to various contributing factors involving traffic.
  • We should observe them for everyone’s well-being and safety.

Recent Developments

While the statistics of traffic-related casualties have been slowly reducing, Massachusetts will not pass bills involving lane splitting in the foreseeable future. The state remains firm on lane splitting regulations to prevent a potential accident stemming from stopped cars being hit by motorcycles and deter other vehicles going in the same direction from colliding in transit.

Why is Lane Splitting Legal in

Reminders About Legal Lane Splitting

Although, just because something is legal does not mean it is always safe. The state ranks the highest in accidents involving motorcyclists than any other state in America.

Possible Injuries

A motorcyclist can sustain head injuries that may be fatal or debilitating. In 2019, a reported 474 motorcyclists lost their lives taking a ride through a Californian lane. While not all of those motorcycle accidents involved lane splitting, it did make up a significant percentage of it.

What Kinds of Accidents Can Lane Splitting Cause

Lane splitting is deemed dangerous for many reasons, primarily because it is indisputably harder to avoid collision with different types of transportation within such close proximity of one another. A lane’s width can measure as little as six feet at times, and two forms of transportation sharing that space even for a moment can be risky.

Possible Accidents Related to Lane Splitting Involving Motorcyclists

A motorcyclist sharing a lane with another vehicle or other motorcyclists might swerve to avoid oncoming traffic or pothole and collide with whoever is within their lane. The average motorcycle holds a velocity of 90 kilometers per hour.

Break a Leg

When the breaks are pumped on a motorcycle at higher speeds, they may spiral out of control or propel motorcyclists off their seats forward into the pavement or traffic. While some narrowly escape death, most succumb to the injuries they sustained through these accidents.

Possible Accidents Related to Lane Splitting Involving Cyclists

Cyclists face the same risks and are less likely to speed off to avoid imminent dangers. Those traveling in large groups keep only about an arm’s distance away from one another, where only two motorcycles share a lane, up to three cyclists can share a lane.

The Purpose of Sufficient Leeway for Safety

The more people sharing a lane increases the risks that come with lane splitting. It only takes one reckless driver to injure multiple people within one lane.

The more motorists within a lane narrow down any space one might need in avoiding obstacles. This is why lane splitting remains illegal in Massachusetts.

Lane Splitting in Massachusetts

It is illegal for motorists to pass another vehicle within the same lane within the entire Common Wealth of Massachusetts. Motorcyclists are also discouraged from riding abreast and only offered leniency when roads are clear or only with light traffic that is of stable pace.

However, a heavier flow of traffic moving slower than 30 kilometers per hour and even during a standstill prohibits anyone on two wheels from lane filtering. The risk of major accidents occurring due to the slightest swerves increases due to the more saturated roads.

What to Do When You Are Involved in an Accident caused by Lane Splitting in Worcester County, MA

If you are suffering bodily injuries caused by another party’s negligence, they must be held accountable.

The Kiley Law Group is one of the leading firms practicing in the area that specializes in personal injury law.

How to Contact Kiley Law Group

The firm has garnered over forty years of experience and over $500 million in personal injury recoveries.