Is Lane Splitting Legal in North Carolina?

Lane splitting is also referred to as white lining, filtering, and stripe-riding.

It is the term used when a motorcycle or bicycle is riding in between multiple lanes and rows of traffic that has come to a halt. They must be moving in the same direction as the traffic when not stopped.

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Is lane splitting legal in North Carolina?

It is much faster for the motorcycle rider to lane split as it means they do not get caught up in the congestion on the roads. In some instances, it is safer for the cyclist to lane split instead of stopping behind a stationary vehicle.

Is lane splitting legal in North Carolina?

Yes, technically speaking it is. There is no legislation that explicitly bans the practice of lane splitting for motorcycle riders. That being said, it is strongly discouraged as it is considered to be a dangerous practice. 

As a general rule, if you are involved in an accident while lane splitting, you are likely to be considered as at fault.

It is illegal for a motorcycle to pass a vehicle on the right hand side in North Carolina. There are exceptions to this but generally speaking, it is not allowed.

What are the dangers of lane splitting?

Motor vehicle drivers may not be expecting to see a motorcycle zooming up behind them. In cases where traffic has been at a standstill for an extended period of time, these drivers may wish to get out of their vehicle and stretch their legs. If this is the case they will open their car door, and they are likely to do this without checking behind them.

If you are a motorcycle rider rapidly advancing towards this car, a door opening suddenly could cause you to crash. This could cause a serious injury to you, the person exiting the car, or the car itself. 

In a similar vein, someone may extend their arms, legs, or even head out of the windows of their car. If you do not see this until it is too late it could cause you both serious harm.

Vehicle drivers could opt for a very rapid lane change. If the neighboring lane is open and there are no cars then the driver may not thoroughly check behind them before pulling out. If you are in the middle of the lanes then this could cause a serious injury. 

If it’s dangerous, why is it legal?

There have been many studies done into lane splitting and the safety of it. These include the Hurt Report and 2 different studies carried out in California. 

These stated that lane splitting on roads with more than one lane, through slow-moving or stopped traffic, results in a reduction in crash frequency. This is compared to the number of crashes that result when the motorcyclist moves with other traffic within the lane.

A 2015 report from California found that fewer injuries were sustained in incidents where the motorcyclist had been lane splitting. This was attributed to the fact that lane-splitting motorcyclists were often wearing better helmets and traveling at a much slower speed.

This same study claimed lane splitting is safe if done in the midst of traffic moving at 50 mph or less, provided the motorcycles are not traveling at a speed more than 15 mph faster than other vehicles. 

How can you prove the other party’s liability?

This can be very difficult. As a lane splitting motorcyclist, you are likely to be blamed for any accidents that occur. This could mean that you miss out on any compensation and it could have an impact on your insurance policy.

You will need to prove that lane splitting did not cause the accident, or that the other driver had a larger role in causing it. To do this, you will need concrete proof that your motorcycle riding was safe and responsible. 

You can use witnesses, surveillance cameras, and police reports to corroborate your side of the story. A good driving history that spans a large time period will also help your case.

If you notice the other driver acting irresponsibly, you should make a note of this and alert an official body. This could include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they did not have control over the vehicle, or they were distracted by their phone.

How do you reduce your chances of getting into an accident?

It is a good idea to wear bright and reflective clothing when riding a motorcycle on the road. It is a good idea to only split between the far left traffic lanes. You should never drive in vehicle blind spots, or lane split near to large vehicles such as trucks. 

It is wise to not exceed the speed limit as this leaves you more prone to having an accident. You should always use turn signals to clearly indicate your intentions.

You should not drive close to other vehicles and keep an adequate distance between you and other road users. This will allow you to have a longer reaction period if you notice something dangerous.

What are the legal requirements for motorcyclists in NC?

You must be at least 16 years old to get a licence to drive a motorcycle. If you are under 18 you must also have a written and signed statement of parental or guardian consent. 

Everyone on a motorcycle, whether they are a driver or passenger, should be wearing a helmet. You should complete a training session and get a motorcycle licence or endorsement on your regular licence before you ride on the road. To get this accolade, you will need to pass a motorcycle driving test.

To ensure your motorcycle is street legal, it should have at least 2 mirrors, a horn, and turn signals. It will also need to have 2 sets of brakes, one at the front and one at the rear. Your motorcycle must also have a minimum of 3 lights - a brake light, a headlight, and a tail light.