Is Lane Splitting on a Motorcycle Legal in Washington State?
Motorcycle riders are sometimes tempted to move through heavy traffic more quickly by lane splitting. Lane splitting is when a bicycle or motorcycle rider rides their bike in the same direction as the flow of traffic but between lanes or rows when traffic is moving slowly or stopped. Other names for lane splitting are white-lining, lane sharing, filtering or stripe-riding.
Is lane splitting on a motorcycle legal in Washington State?
In Washington state, lane splitting is illegal (California is the only state that allows lane splitting). Washington State law (RCW 46.61.608) prohibits lane splitting: “(3) No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.” Persons caught lane splitting may be subject to a $136 fine. If an officer finds that the motorcyclist was riding erratically or aggressively, the rider may also be charged with reckless driving, illegal passing or other traffic violations.
Why is lane splitting illegal in Washington State?
Washington State legislators attempted to make lane splitting legal in 2017 but the effort stalled in the house. Washington State legislators introduced legislation in 2015 that would have allowed shoulder driving by motorcycle riders in some cases while keeping lane splitting illegal but it didn’t pass either. Washington State Patrol and the state Traffic Safety Commission say that lane splitting can be dangerous and would not be helpful to reducing motorcycle accident fatalities and catastrophic injuries so often associated with serious motorcycle accidents.
Who’s at fault in a lane splitting motorcycle accident?
Most of the time, motorcyclists are at fault in motorcycle lane splitting accidents since lane splitting is illegal. If the motorcycle rider was also ticketed for aggressive or reckless riding, the insurance companies are even more likely to fault the rider for the accident. It is more likely that the motorcyclist can prove the driver was at fault and recover compensation in a personal injury claim for a motorcycle lane splitting accident if the following factors are at play:
- The motorcyclist was riding carefully and obeying all other traffic laws at the time of the crash.
- The driver was driving aggressively, was distracted, intoxicated or high at the time of the collision.
- The motorcyclist was properly licensed and trained to ride a motorcycle.
A motorcycle accident attorney can evaluate the factors of your motorcycle crash, determine fault and discuss your legal rights. Note that in Washington State, fault can be shared in a personal injury case. Damages are awarded based on contributory fault law which says that you may only be awarded damages proportionate to the percentage of fault contributed by the defendant and nothing for the amount of fault that you contributed.
Seek the help of a motorcycle accident lawyer
If you have lost a loved one or been injured through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the justice and fair compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring, tireless and experienced personal injury attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County and surrounding areas since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!