212-LAWYERS or (212) 344-1000

Is Lane Splitting on a Motorcycle Illegal in New York?

Motorcycle accidents are quite common on the congested streets of New York and may occur due to several reasons. Although some of these accidents may arise from unforeseeable circumstances, analysis of motorcycle accident data shows that most cases are preventable if sufficient caution is exercised by everyone on the road.

lane splitting motorcycle

Motorcycle accidents are quite common on the congested streets of New York and may occur due to several reasons. Although some of these accidents may arise from unforeseeable circumstances, analysis of motorcycle accident data shows that most cases are preventable if sufficient caution is exercised by everyone on the road.

It’s a known fact that motorcycles provide very little protection to the person riding them as compared to the extensive features available to someone driving a car. Therefore, it naturally follows that when they hear of a motorcycle accident in NYC, people tend to assume that it was caused due to reckless driving by the car driver. While this is certainly possible, it is equally true that in some cases, it may be the motorcyclist who was responsible for the accident because of lane splitting which is an illegal maneuver in New York State.

What is Lane Splitting?

As you wait in peak hour traffic on the congested lanes of New York City, you may have noticed a motorcycle rider who tries to get ahead of you by riding in the space available between two other lanes of traffic. This type of movement is called lane splitting and it is a common maneuver used by motorcyclists who take advantage of the flexibility of movement provided by their smaller vehicle to pass between other vehicles that are either stationary or moving very slowly.

Also called “white-lining” or “filtering” or “stripe-riding”, lane splitting can be quite dangerous because other drivers on the road are not expecting such random movement and may strike the motorcyclist when they stop or move in their lane.

Lane Splitting is Illegal in New York

Under New York State laws, motorcyclists are permitted to the full use of a lane. This concept called “lane sharing” is different from lane splitting. Lane sharing means that a motorcyclist is allowed to share lanes with another motorcycle rider riding in the same lane. However, New York law does not allow motorcyclists to ride between lanes in which other vehicles are moving or stationary and lane splitting is, therefore, an illegal maneuver.

Are There Any Advantages to Lane Splitting?

A rear-end collision in which a passenger vehicle crashes into a motorcycle can cause grave injuries even when the vehicle moves at a low speed. When the motorcyclist is violently hit from behind, they have absolutely no opportunity to do anything to avoid the crash.

As a result, rear-end motorcycle accidents are considered among the most hazardous type of motorcycle accidents. A motorcyclist who is rear-ended will often be thrown off their bike, leading to devastating injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury, permanent disability or even death.

Considering the dangers of rear-end motorcycle accidents, there are some voices that support lane splitting as a safe alternative that allows motorcyclists to ride in safety on congested roads.

A 2017 petition to the Department of Transportation of NYC asked that motorcyclists be allowed to split lanes because this can actually help to reduce the congestion on the road.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is in support of lane splitting, and they quote the narrow width of the motorcycle as an advantage when it comes to passing between other slow-moving or stationary lanes of vehicles on the road.

Why is Lane Splitting Considered Dangerous?

Despite the above-mentioned advantages of lane splitting, it does not enjoy legal sanction because there are several dangers that may result from this act. Lane splitting can be extremely hazardous especially in the following situations:

  • When the motorcyclist is lane splitting, if another passenger vehicle suddenly changes lanes, there can be a grave collision that causes severe injuries.
  • If a motorcyclist who is lane splitting ends up in the motorist’s blind spot on the passenger side, the former may get struck when the motorist tries to make a right turn at an intersection.
  • When a motorcyclist moves between lanes of stationary vehicles, they may collide with the door that a car passenger opens to exit the vehicle.

According to researchers who carried out the California Enhanced Motorcycle Collision Data Project in 2015, 17% of the motorcycle accidents that were analyzed were found to occur at the time when the motorcyclist was lane splitting.

This study also studied other aspects regarding safe driving behavior for motorcyclists. It reported that the probability of a motorcycle accident was least in traffic that moves at a speed below 50 mph and when there is a difference of at least 10-15 mph between the speeds of the motorcycle and other vehicles in the traffic.

Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) Guidelines for Safe Motorcycle Riding

The MIC, a not-for-profit organization, provides guidelines for motorcyclists to ride safely on the congested streets of New York. They advise that motorcycle riders stay alert and cautious and follow the following measures when riding in heavy, slow-moving traffic:

  • Never split lanes when traffic is moving at or close to the prescribed speed limit.
  • If at all you wish to split lanes, do so only between the two lanes of traffic that are at the extreme left. When the lane-splitting location is consistent, car drivers driving in the adjacent lanes will learn to be watchful for motorcyclists moving past them.
  • Never drive above the prescribed limits when splitting lanes.
  • Make sure your speed is not significantly greater than that of the adjacent vehicles.
  • Whenever possible, if you find a carpool lane where the traffic is free-flowing, use that lane instead of resorting to lane splitting.

How Can You Prevent Lane Splitting Accidents in NYC?

As with any other crash, New York lane splitting accidents too can be prevented if motorcycle riders exercise due caution to avoid all those circumstances that are likely to cause a crash. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Always follow the traffic laws
  • Stay aware of what is happening on the road around you
  • Ensure you provide sufficient indication of your intention when driving
  • Avoid getting into positions that put you into another vehicle’s blind spots
  • Share the road with others instead of trying to cut them off
  • Make sure your motorcycle is in good running condition
  • Follow the laws regarding increasing your motorcycle’s visibility through the use of lights (headlight, brake light, and taillight), reflectors, rearview mirrors, brakes, horn, and turn signals.

How is Liability Determined in Motorcycle Accidents in New York?

Under New York law, in a motorcycle accident, one or multiple individuals or entities may be held liable for the crash. If the accident was caused by a passenger vehicle driver’s failure to notice the motorcyclist, that driver can be held responsible for the crash. In some cases, if the poor road conditions contribute to the accident, the government body that is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the road may also be held accountable.

In cases where it can be proved that the malfunction of a defective part in the motorcycle led to the crash, the motorcycle manufacturer may also be held liable for the injuries the victim suffered. However, if you have been hurt in an accident that occurred when you were splitting lanes, things can get a little complicated.

Get in Touch with a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in New York

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident that involved lane splitting, you definitely need to engage the services of a competent and experienced New York motorcycle accident lawyer who knows how the system works.

At Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP,  our experienced attorneys have a thorough understanding of the laws regarding motorcycle riding and they can help you present a strong case that is likely to win the damages you claim.

Once you engage our services, our lawyers will conduct an independent investigation of the accident and make sure relevant evidence and information is collected and preserved. Through interaction with medical and financial experts, we will then help you determine the compensation to be claimed to meet your present as well as long-term expenses that have resulted from the accident.

If you approach us soon after your NYC motorcycle accident, we can even try to get the party at fault to pay for the medical treatment you had to undergo due to the accident.

Riding a motorcycle in a crowded city like New York can pose quite a few unique challenges. Whether it is a motorcycle traffic ticket that you are worried about or claiming compensation for a motorcycle accident that was caused by another party’s negligence, our professional motorcycle accident lawyers can provide you with the right advice and support to ensure your rights are protected.

Our team of accomplished motorcycle accident lawyers has years of experience in negotiating with insurance adjusters as well as with pursuing a case to trial. So, whatever you decide regarding the course of action you wish to pursue, we have the necessary resources to support you in your decision.

If you have any issues regarding a motorcycle accident or ticket, call us today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.

NYC Personal Injury lawyer - RMFW Law Logo Inverted

Get a Free Consultation

No Win No Fee
April Johnson
April Johnson
15:54 30 Jun 23
Easy access to thr firm with a very nice Lawyer
Benjamin Roussey
Benjamin Roussey
19:03 29 Jun 23
No firm gets it done like RMFW. They are the best.They are awesome - for sure.
Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez
19:02 24 May 23
I’ve been in the personal injury field as an investigator for 29 years. All in New York City. Out of all the hundreds of Law Firms I’ve worked with, Rosenberg Minc Falkoff & Wolf, would have to be at the very top of my list. Amazing staff great attorneys.If you want the job done right, these are you guys.
Julio Ochoa
Julio Ochoa
20:49 18 May 23
I highly recommend Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP for their outstanding assistance in obtaining a settlement for an Erb's Palsy birth injury case. Their knowledge, dedication, and compassionate attitude were important in attaining a successful end. Their professionalism and assistance were simply outstanding from beginning to end. I am deeply thankful for their representation and would enthusiastically recommend them to anyone seeking justice in a similar situation.
Aisha Neri
Aisha Neri
20:29 18 May 23
I recently had the privilege of working with Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP on my daughter’s birth injury case involving Erb's Palsy, and I cannot express enough gratitude for their exceptional legal services. From the initial consultation to the successful settlement, they demonstrated profound expertise, unwavering dedication, and genuine compassion for my family's situation.From the very beginning, the team proved their commitment to justice. They thoroughly investigated the circumstances surrounding my child Erb's Palsy birth injury, leaving no stone unturned. Their extensive knowledge and understanding of medical malpractice law, coupled with their deep expertise in birth injury cases, provided us with tremendous confidence in their ability to handle our case.The attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff consistently displayed exceptional professionalism and attention to detail throughout the entire legal process. They meticulously gathered evidence, consulted with medical experts, and built a compelling case that clearly outlined the negligence and liability on the part of the medical professionals involved. One aspect that truly stood out was the genuine care and compassion exhibited by Daniel Minc, Lorraine Licul, and the entire team at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff. They treated us not just as clients but as individuals with unique emotions and concerns. They took the time to listen attentively to our worries, provided constant updates on the progress of our case, and promptly responded to our inquiries, ensuring we felt supported and reassured throughout the process. Their empathy and understanding made an immeasurable difference during such a challenging and emotionally taxing time.When it came time to negotiate a settlement, Daniel Minc demonstrated remarkable skill and tenacity. He fought fiercely on our behalf, advocating for fair compensation to cover any potential long-term effects of Erb's Palsy on my child's life. His negotiation skills were truly impressive, as they secured a settlement that exceeded our expectations and provided the financial resources necessary to support my child's future needs.I cannot recommend Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff highly enough to anyone seeking legal representation in Erb's Palsy birth injury cases or any other medical malpractice matters. Their extensive experience, unwavering dedication, and empathetic approach make them an exceptional choice for families navigating the complexities of birth injury litigation. Thanks to Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, my family now has the means to provide the best care and opportunities for my child's future.If you are seeking a law firm that combines legal expertise with genuine compassion, look no further than Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP. They will tirelessly fight for your rights and ensure your voice is heard, providing you with the support and justice you deserve.
Aoki R
Aoki R
17:14 17 May 23
I highly recommend Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP. They are a team of dedicated professionals fully committed to their clients. I have witnessed the firm's amazing work ethic in my experience with their attorneys and Lorraine Licul. Lorraine is a knowledable, empathetic and results-driven professional. Minc is an excellent attorney and I greatly appreciate the firm's expertise.
Michael Levites
Michael Levites
17:42 12 May 23
I have recommended this firm to some of my friends and I heard back only positive feedback about the client responsiveness, diligence and hard work put in by these attorneys. I will continue to refer anyone who suffered a personal injury to Rosenberg Minc..
See All Reviews