Where Is Lane Splitting Legal?

Lane splitting is legal in only one state, California, but four others allow modified versions, and many others are without regulations.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
California is the only state where lane splitting is legal. Still, Hawaii, Montana, Arizona, and Utah have modified versions of the law that allow motorcyclists to drive between lanes when traffic is stopped. Several other states are taking strides to legalize lane splitting.
Nothing gives you an adrenaline rush like riding a motorcycle down the open road. It’s a type of thrill you just can’t achieve in a car—but it also comes with many risks. While motorcycle riders are subject to many of the same traffic laws as automobiles, a few differ—like lane-splitting. And while vehicle drivers rage at the thought of bikers bypassing bumper-to-bumper traffic, certain states allow it. That’s why it’s essential to know the motorcycle laws before you hit the open road.
Here to give you the details on where lane splitting is legal and where it’s not is
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What is lane splitting?

Have you ever seen motorcyclists cut between two cars in their own lane to pass? That’s lane splitting. By definition, lane splitting is the operation of a motorcycle between marked traffic lanes traveling in the same direction—essentially, lane splitting is driving along the dotted lines that mark where the lane ends.  
However, don’t be confused by all of the similar terms. Lane splitting is different than lane filtering, which denotes riding between two lanes of stopped traffic, usually to reach the front of the traffic line at an intersection. Lane filtering typically takes place at traffic lights so riders can safely navigate toward the front of the line and avoid being sandwiched between motor vehicles.

Lane splitting vs. lane sharing

Lane splitting and lane sharing sound the same, but they’re not. Unlike lane splitting (or stripe-riding), where a motorcyclist rides between lanes of moving traffic, lane sharing is more than one rider using the same lane simultaneously. In lane sharing, you’re allowing other traffic to use the unused portion of a lane. For example, two motorcyclists riding side-by-side in a single traffic lane is considered lane sharing—but there currently aren’t laws about lane sharing. 
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Are you heading into another state on your bike and thinking about whizzing by traffic? Think again. In most states, lane splitting is illegal—although there are a few where it’s allowed.
is the only state that legally allows motorcycle lane splitting. However, four other states have some variation of the law that allows bikers to take similar action—
, Hawaii,
, and


Utah was the first state after California to legalize a form of lane splitting. In 2019, the
Utah lane filtering law
was passed, allowing motorcycles to travel between lanes of stopped traffic only—i.e., lane filtering. It is only legal when: 
  • The posted speed limit is 45 mph or less
  • The motorcyclist’s speed does not exceed 15 mph when passing traffic
  • The road has at least two lanes going in the same direction
  • Traffic is stopped
  • The motorcyclist filters between marked lanes—shoulder surfing and passing in a bike lane are not permitted


If you’re planning a motorcycle ride through the Grand Canyon, you won’t have to worry about traffic—too much. Although lane splitting isn’t legal in Arizona, they have legalized a version of lane splitting.As stated in
Senate Bill 1273
, motorcyclists are allowed to ride between lanes of traffic stopped at a light—i.e., lane filtering is legal. This helps riders avoid the dangers of being rear-ended or stuck between two vehicles during stopped traffic.
However, lane filtering is only legal in Arizona when:
  • The posted speed limit is 45 mph or less
  • A motorcyclist is not exceeding 15 mph
  • The street has two or more lanes with the same direction of travel
  • The driver is passing a car stopped in the same lane
  • The rider is passing between lanes of traffic, not on the median or shoulder


In 2018, Hawaii passed a
new law
to legalize a version of lane splitting—but their narrow roads don’t make lane splitting or filtering safe or ideal. Motorcyclists can legally pass stopped traffic on the road shoulder in certain approved areas. However, shoulder riding is only legal on roads with at least two lanes in each direction and a shoulder lane wide enough to accommodate the motorcycle safely. Note that lane splitting is not permitted—traffic must be stopped.


In October 2021, The passing of
Senate Bill 9
made lane splitting conditionally legal in Montana. This bill allows motorcyclists to lane split to overtake stopped or slow vehicles as long as:
  • The motorcyclist’s speed does not exceed 20 mph
  • The lanes are wide enough
  • Road conditions and traffic are safe
  • The motorcyclist stays within ten mph of the speed of other traffic while lane splitting
That said, Montana allows lane filtering or passing stopped or slow traffic traveling no more than ten mph in the same direction. In any other circumstances, lane splitting is prohibited.

Lane splitting in California

California is the only US state that has legalized lane splitting. Although certain other states have made a version of lane splitting legal under certain circumstances, it is entirely legal in California. Although it was never “illegal,”
Bill AB 51
was enacted to officially make lane splitting legal and sanctioned in California.
However, there is lane splitting etiquette: 
  • Motorcyclists should never exceed ten mph more than surrounding traffic
  • Avoid lane splitting when traffic is going faster than 30 mph
  • Do not lane split close to freeway on-ramps and exits
For more information on lane splitting in California, the California Highway Patrol offers
lane splitting motorcycle safety tips
for riders.
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Is lane splitting safe?

Riding between moving cars may not seem like the safest move, but for motorcyclists who are already at a higher risk on the roads, lane splitting is safe. The University of California Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research & Education Center released findings in 2015 in the
Motorcycle Lane-splitting and Safety in California
, showing that motorcyclists who lane split were injured less often during collisions. They were also less likely to experience:
  • Head injury (9% vs. 17%)
  • Torso injury (19% vs. 29%)
  • Extremity injury (60% vs. 66%)
  • Fatal injury (1.2% vs. 3.0%)
And they were also less likely to be rear-ended than bikers who don’t lane split (2.6% vs. 4.6%). So, while it may not seem like the safest move, lane splitting is safe and helps to maintain the flow of traffic, reduces overheating, and is a safe alternative to stop-and-go traffic.

Can lane splitting cause motorcycle accidents?

Yes—lane splitting can cause motorcycle accidents. With more distracted drivers behind the wheel, the road isn’t the safest place for motorcyclists. Although lane splitting offers a safer alternative for riders during heavy traffic, it can also spell trouble when vehicle drivers don’t look properly before switching lanes. Speed is also one of the biggest factors involved in lane splitting crashes, which is why it’s recommended not to exceed a certain speed when white lining between traffic.
While not all the result of lane splitting, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were 5,579 motorcyclist fatalities and 83,000 motorcyclist injuries in 2020. 
By nature, motorcycles are at a higher risk for injuries in a crash than closed vehicles, are significantly less visible to other drivers and pedestrians, and are less stable than four-wheel vehicles. Operating a motorcycle requires a different set of physical and mental skills than driving a car, which puts motorists at a higher risk on the road. 

How to find cheap insurance for your car or bike

Whether you have a bike or are thinking about getting one, ensure you’re up-to-date on the rules of the road—and the regulations in your state—before you hit the highways. Unlike closed vehicles, motorcyclists are exposed to far greater risk on the road due to distracted drivers, and to help mitigate some of that risk, you’ll want to
get a solid motorcycle insurance policy
And for days you need to leave the bike parked at home, you’ll need a great
car insurance
policy, too. With help from
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Here’s how to get started: download the Jerry app, plug in your driving details, and scan your personalized quotes. Once you find the right policy, connect with an agent to secure your coverage and start saving immediately. Best of all, the average Jerry user saves over $800 a year on car insurance! It’s quick, simple, and hassle-free.
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Apart from California, Arizona, Montana, Hawaii, and Utah, the remaining states either don’t have regulations on lane splitting or make it illegal. 
States without lane splitting regulations:
District of Columbia (Washington, DC)
New Jersey
North Carolina
West Virginia
States where lane splitting is illegal:
Massachusetts (considering legislation)
New Hampshire
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Virginia (considering legislation)
If you’re in a state that prohibits lane splitting and a motorcyclist lane splits, you risk being cited for an improper lane change, failure to maintain a lane, or even reckless driving. And worse, if you’re involved in an accident while plane splitting or filtering, you could be found partially or wholly liable (depending on the state).
No—Texas currently doesn’t have regulations around lane splitting, which makes it neither legal nor illegal. The Texas Transportation Code
§ 545.060
states that motorists on a roadway with two or more marked lanes must drive “as near as practical entirely within a single lane.” Motorists are only allowed to change lanes when “the movement can be made safely.” 
Although the law leaves room for interpretation and lane splitting is relatively common in Texas, doing so can result in a moving citation for failure to maintain a single lane.
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