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Is Lane Splitting Legal in Missouri?

Motorcycles are attractive to many Missouri residents for the fun and excitement they provide on the open road. Motorcycles are open and exposed, offering riders very little in the way of protection from impacts, plus the small and maneuverable nature of motorcycles encourages some riders to engage in unsafe activities.

Lane splitting is one such activity that exists in a legal grey area in some states. Missouri state laws do not expressly forbid lane splitting, but it is still deemed an unsafe driving practice and should be avoided. Lane splitting is riding the white lines between adjacent lanes of traffic. Some riders may believe lane splitting is safe because of the small size of their motorcycles, but as seen by our Kansas City motorcycle accident lawyers, the practice contributes to many serious accidents.

Accidents Involving Lane Splitting

Since lane splitting is largely frowned upon, most motorcyclists who suffer injuries from accidents while splitting lanes often don’t pursue compensation for their injuries and damages. Lane splitting can be dangerous, but since it is not legally prohibited, it does not preclude an injured biker from filing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver. An injured motorcyclist may be able to prove that the other driver was at fault for the collision.

If the other driver was using a cellphone while driving, driving under the influence, driving at excessive speeds, or otherwise violating the traffic laws at the time of the crash, the motorcyclist may succeed in obtaining compensation for property damage, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and even lost income if an accident renders the biker unable to work.

Best Practices for Bikers in Missouri

Motorcycle riders should take every precaution to protect themselves from injury on the road. This includes making sure they are as visible as possible to other drivers and wear all necessary safety equipment. Unlike some states, Missouri’s helmet law requires all riders to wear helmet. While some states do not have specific helmet laws, motorcyclists should wear helmets approved by the Department of Transportation. These helmets save hundreds of lives every year.

In addition to helmets, wearing protective gear and leather outerwear can help guard from injuries should the biker fall from the motorcycle and strike the ground. Friction burns from sliding on asphalt (also known as “road rash”) are painful and can leave permanent scars. Reflective tape or clothing with reflective surfaces can also help bikers be more visible at night.

Blind spots are another concern for bikers. Most drivers have blind spots that they cannot see in their rearview mirrors, and motorcycles are small enough to fit in these blind spots. If a driver fails to turn his head to check blind spots before a turn or lane change, he could strike a motorcyclist riding in the blind spot.

Finally, obeying traffic laws is the best way to prevent accidents and injuries. Following the traffic laws protects you from any potential legal liability. Even if you get into an accident while lane-splitting, if you can prove that you were riding at a lawful speed, took every reasonable safety precaution, and stopped splitting once the lanes started moving again (if applicable), you have a much better chance of winning your case. A judge will also likely consider any obtained safety certifications and your prior motorcycle history.

Lane splitting may not be explicitly prohibited in Missouri, but it is still an unsafe practice that could leave you more vulnerable to a collision. It can also leave you more vulnerable should a motor vehicle crash lead to a lawsuit.