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Is there a difference between motorcycle lane sharing and lane splitting?

You may have heard the terms “lane sharing” and “lane splitting” before. While even motorcyclists themselves may use the terms interchangeably, there's a big difference between lane sharing and lane splitting.

What Is Lane Sharing?

Lane sharing is when two motorcycles ride side-by-side in a single lane of traffic. Usually, the bikers will stagger their positions within the lane, as riding side-by-side can make it more difficult to maneuver around obstacles and reduce visibility on the rider’s side. In many states, lane sharing is permitted, although motorcycles are prohibited from riding more than two abreast in a single lane.

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting, also called white-lining or filtering, is when a motorcycle drives between two traffic lanes traveling in the same direction (using the “white line” as a middle lane). While this can be done while traffic is moving steadily, it is commonly seen while lanes full of cars have come to a stop—creating the popular motorist complaint of motorcyclists speeding through the center line in traffic jams.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Missouri?

Although lane splitting is not specifically prohibited by Missouri law, it is also not authorized as a safe maneuver. Most state laws have similar loopholes regarding the practice: it is not authorized, but is not mentioned within the law. Only California has a statue specifically allowing lane splitting, and only then when a rider can perform the maneuver in a "safe and prudent" manner.

Lane splitting is generally frowned upon by drivers and lawmakers, so you may not get fait treatment if you were in a motorcycle crash while lane splitting on I-49. Many police officers may assume you were at fault for riding your motorcycle “illegally”—even if the car that struck you was the one at fault.

As both an attorney and biker, James Roswold can tell you how a judge and jury will treat you after a motorcycle crash and what factors will help you win your case. Click the link on this page to read The Devil’s Advocate: A Biker’s Guide to Accidents & Injuries, for the ups and downs of bike crashes from both sides of the table.


James Roswold
James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.

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