Is Lane Splitting Legal in Virginia?

lane splitting

There are reasons for every law. When it comes to roadway laws, this holds true. When someone fails to follow a roadway law it often leads to an accident. One roadway law that Virginia currently employs is that you must remain in a single lane while driving unless you are passing another vehicle. This means that you may not participate in “lane splitting.”

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting happens when a motorcycle rides in between two lanes of traffic that are going in the same direction whether or not that traffic is actually moving. Motorcyclists often attempt to lane split when traffic is not moving since they are still able to maneuver between lanes. This is different from lane sharing in which two motorcyclists ride next to one another within the same lane

Debates on the Safety of Lane Splitting

As of now, California is the only state to legalize lane splitting, though other states, such as Virginia, are currently considering it. Those who believe that lane splitting should be legal argue that it is safe since it protects motorcyclists from rear-end collisions that may commonly occur in the start and stop traffic. Meanwhile, those who believe that it should remain illegal find that it increases the risk of lane-changing accidents. 

Lane-Splitting Law in Virginia

A state bill has been introduced that would allow operators of a two-wheeled motorcycle to pass another vehicle that is stopped or traveling at no more than 10 miles an hour between two lanes of traffic.

However, at present lane splitting is still illegal in the state of Virginia. The only time that motorcyclists are not obligated to remain in their lane is if they are safely passing another vehicle.

The only exception to Virginia’s lane-splitting law is for police officers on motorcycles who must split lanes in order to carry out job-related duties. Anyone else who is found to be lane splitting will receive a moving violation and must pay a fine. If someone illegally lane splits and causes an accident, he or she (and likely his or her insurance company) is also responsible for related damages. 

Laws Against Recovering Damages

Since Virginia is a contributory negligence state it means that anyone who even remotely contributes to his or her own injuries is barred from recovering damages. This makes lane splitting even less appealing. 

For instance, imagine a motorcyclist lane-splits and is hit by a truck whose driver was on the phone and speeding. As a result, the motorcyclist is seriously injured and his motorcycle is totaled. Under contributory negligence law, the fact that the motorcyclist was illegally lane splitting, which contributed to the accident, would bar him from recovering anything. So even if he incurred $100,000 in damages, if he was even 1% at fault since he was lane splitting, he wouldn’t be entitled to recover any damages at all. 

Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC Can Help Those in VA who Have Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, it can be devastating. But while you should be focused on healing from the accident, you will be left to deal with how you are going to pay all related costs. This is why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced motorcycle attorney. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, our personal injury attorneys understand the significance of your injuries and will fight to get you the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Motorcycle Accident