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Is Lane Splitting Legal in Colorado?

October 6, 2020

Motorcyclists are seriously vulnerable to harm during an accident. Because motorcycles don’t have the outer shell that vehicles have, you can experience broken bones, burns, bruising, head and spinal trauma, and more serious injuries in a collision. Some driving behaviors are more likely to cause accidents than others, including driving while intoxicated, speeding, and, in the case of motorcyclists, lane splitting.

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting, also known as whitelining or stripe-riding, is the practice of weaving between lanes of traffic. Usually, motorcyclists lane split when they’re stuck in traffic jams, hoping to use their vehicle’s size to avoid gridlock. Motorcycles may maneuver between open spaces, use less-busy lanes to get around cars, or ride on the shoulder.

While lane splitting is a common practice in areas that have high traffic densities, it is still an unsafe and often illegal practice. In fact, lane splitting is illegal in Colorado, and you can face fines and other penalties if a police officer catches you weaving between traffic. Lane splitting also puts you at risk of injury from the vehicles on the road.

Colorado Laws on Lane Splitting

Colorado motorcycle laws specifically prohibit lane splitting. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, a motorcycle cannot pass or overtake a vehicle in the same lane. Motorcycles also cannot share or split lanes with cars; however, if you are riding with another motorcyclist, you can share the lane with him or her.

Following the law is important for a number of reasons — and accident compensation is one of them. After a motorcycle accident, you can sustain serious physical, financial, and emotional damages, and you will need to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Since Colorado is a fault-based accident state, you will need to prove the other driver was responsible for your injuries.

Lane splitting can put your chances of recovery at risk. Insurance companies may deny your claim by stating you were responsible for the accident by lane-splitting. If you choose to pursue a lawsuit, civil courts may reduce your award amount by ruling that you shared a portion of the liability, or the judge or jury may deny your settlement outright. To protect your best interests, avoid lane splitting.

Is Lane Splitting Safe?

While lane splitting is a common practice, it is also illegal in Colorado and highly dangerous. Driving through open traffic can put you at risk of collision, either with the vehicle itself or a hazard on the road such as an unexpectedly opened door. Since motorcyclists are already vulnerable in collisions, putting yourself in harm’s way by lane splitting is undeniably risky.

Lane splitting and resulting collisions can cause serious injuries, including the following.

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Spinal cord damage and paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Bruises, burns, and road rash
  • Permanent scarring, disfigurement, or loss of limbs
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Psychological trauma

In addition to physical and emotional damage, the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be very difficult. You may face financial hardship through lost wages, high medical costs, and property repairs. Treatment time can be lengthy, and you may sustain permanent damage.

To protect your best interests and future recovery, it is important to follow Colorado motorcycle laws as much as possible. If you are in an accident while lane splitting, however, there are ways you can collect compensation for your injuries. Speak to a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your claim’s viability and your next steps.

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