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Lane Splitting vs Lane Filtering: Are They Legal in Chicago?

Lane Splitting vs lane filtering, image of motorcyclist on high way with blurred background, Disparti Law GroupIn This Article:

What is Lane Splitting vs Lane Filtering?

Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides along the lines between two other moving motor vehicles in separate lanes. This is often done at higher speeds. Motorcyclists may attempt this maneuver to bypass traffic, move away from other vehicles, or avoid hazards. Lane splitting is more common in urbanized areas where there is heavy congestion on the roads.

Lane filtering is similar to lane splitting. It’s when a motorcyclist rides along the painted lines between two vehicles in separate lanes to get in front of stopped or slow traffic. This is usually done at slower speeds. Riders may do this to avoid being stuck between two stopped vehicles and to improve their visibility to other drivers.

Lane filtering is a maneuver performed by motorcyclists where they ride between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. Unlike lane splitting, which typically involves riding between lanes at higher speeds, lane filtering usually occurs in congested urban areas or during heavy traffic conditions. It allows motorcyclists to move forward through traffic and find gaps to progress while reducing travel time.

Risks Associated With Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering

Motorcycle lane splitting is illegal in many states because of the risks associated with this maneuver. The close proximity of motorcycles to other vehicles can make it challenging for both drivers and riders to anticipate each other’s movements. When motorcyclists ride between the lanes, they may not have time or room to react to hazards such as sudden lane changes or unexpected vehicle doors opening. They may also find themselves in a driver’s blind spot, increasing their risk of being sideswiped.

Another risk is the potential for road rage and aggression from other drivers. Lane splitting can be startling and frustrating for some drivers. This can lead to aggressive behavior, such as intentional blocking or swerving, putting the motorcyclist in danger. Motorcycle riders must be aware of their surroundings, anticipate potential hostility, and ride defensively to minimize the risk of confrontations. Lane splitting and filtering makes it much harder to do so.

Additionally, uneven surfaces, potholes, or debris between lanes can pose hazards for motorcyclists, especially when riding at higher speeds. Poor weather conditions, such as rain or snow, can further increase the risk of accidents. Reduced visibility and slippery road surfaces make it more difficult for both motorcycle riders and other motorists to react and make safe decisions.

In Chicago and all of Illinois, lane splitting and lane filtering are both illegal. Illinois statute 625 ILCS 5/11-703 explicitly states:

“The driver of a 2 wheeled vehicle may not, in passing upon the left of any vehicle proceeding in the same direction, pass upon the right of any vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless there is an unobstructed lane of traffic available to permit such passing maneuver safely.”

Splitting and filtering between lanes is not illegal everywhere. In fact, it is a common practice in many countries other than the United States. However, for it to be a safe practice in cities like Chicago, motorcyclists would need to be trained on how to safely ride between lines and other motorists would also need to be educated on how to safely react to this maneuver as well.

Advantages of Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering

While many states have made lane filtering and lane splitting illegal, some have chosen to legalize the maneuver. This is because some argue that being able to lane split can actually help keep motorcyclists safe. Lane filtering, when done safely,  can be a means to alleviate traffic congestion and improve the efficiency of motorcycle commuting. It allows motorcyclists to take advantage of their smaller size and maneuverability to navigate through tight spaces between cars.

The American Motorcyclists Association endorses splitting and filtering between lanes. They argue that making lane splitting legal will improve motorcycle safety. A motorcyclist would have a way to escape when trapped between two vehicles in stopped or slow-moving traffic. This has been shown to help reduce motorcycle accidents caused by rear-ending in states like California where lane splitting is legal.

The safety of lane splitting largely depends on the skill and judgment of the motorcyclist, as well as the awareness and behavior of other road users. Proper training, experience, and adherence to speed limits are crucial for motorcyclists who split lanes to minimize the risk of accidents and ensure the safety of everyone on the road.

What About Lane Sharing?

While lane splitting is clearly illegal in Illinois, lane sharing is not. It’s easy to confuse the two, but lane sharing is simply when two motorcyclists can share the same lane, riding side-by-side. Motorcyclists who choose to share a lane often stagger their position which is generally safer than riding directly next to one another.

Note that only two motorcyclists are allowed to share a lane. Any more than that is extremely hazardous and not advisable due to the average width of most lanes.

What to Do After A Lane-Splitting Motorcycle Accident

Perhaps one day, lane splitting could be a common practice throughout the US. But for now, it is still illegal in many states including Illinois and it is best to avoid using this maneuver at all. But if you are involved in a motorcycle accident while filtering or splitting between lanes, you should be mindful of the steps you take immediately following the accident.

Your first priority should be your health and safety. Get to a safe location away from traffic right away and call for medical assistance. Even if you feel fine, you should still see a medical professional, as some injuries can be harder to spot. It will also be helpful to have documentation of your injuries for insurance, or in case you are owed compensation.

Next, gather information from the other parties involved as well as any witnesses that may have been present. When you speak to the police do your best to tell your side of what happened, but be mindful of what you say and avoid making any admissions of guilt.

How Can a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help?

Before speaking with an insurance company, you may consider contacting an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can advise you on your case. Since lane splitting is illegal, having an attorney in your corner can make all the difference in case you are only partially at fault for the accident and may still be owed compensation.

Contact Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers today for a FREE case review. We are committed to raising awareness for motorcycle safety and we know how to win motorcycle accident cases. Call (312) 600-6000.

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