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Is Lane Splitting Legal in Ohio?

Posted in Car Accidents on July 27, 2017

“Lane splitting” refers to the act of maneuvering a motorcycle or bicycle between two vehicles moving in the same direction on a highway or other road – in other words, riding on the line between the lanes. Lane splitting is illegal in every state except California.

In Ohio, motorcyclists and bicyclists caught lane splitting may receive traffic citations and fines for dangerous operation of a vehicle. If you get into an accident while lane splitting in Ohio, you may be at least partially liable for engaging in this illegal technique. Here’s what you need to know about this practice in Dayton.

Arguments for and Against Lane Splitting

In 2016, California became the first state to officially legalize lane splitting. The new law came with strict rules for how motorcyclists should engage in this practice – rules that are still changing as new laws and regulations continue to emerge. In general, motorcyclists may lane split on highways with two or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction if they keep their speed under a certain limit while doing so. Ohio has no such law, making lane-splitting an unlawful practice for motorcycles and bikes.

The legalization of lane splitting in California opened the floor to a nationwide debate about the safety of this practice. Advocates for lane splitting argue that it can reduce the amount of rear-end collisions since motorcyclists have the freedom to ride and idle between vehicles instead of in front or behind them. Rear-end collisions are significant sources of injuries and deaths to vulnerable bikers and motorcyclists. Pro-lane splitters also state that it will reduce traffic on congested highways, cutting commute times and accident rates.

Those against lane splitting believe the practice is highly dangerous for both motorcyclists and other motorists on the roadway. Some say that motorcycles driving between lanes startle other drivers, presenting a risk of accidents. Others cite the risk of merging on top of a lane-splitting cyclist or changing lanes and colliding with a vehicle riding on the line. Still others think the action poses a risk of property damage should the motorcyclist swipe rearview mirrors. There are pressing arguments on both sides of the lane-splitting debate.

Lane Splitting Laws in Ohio

Ohio laws have remained stalwart against the idea of legalizing lane splitting. Ohio Code Chapter 4511.55 states that bicyclists and motorcyclists must always remain as close to the right side of the road as possible. They must obey all traffic rules, including staying within one’s lane until it is safe to pass. Lane splitting is not an acceptable practice in Dayton or elsewhere in Ohio and can result in legal trouble for the offender.

Technically, there’s no law that specifically bars lane splitting in Ohio. However, the technique does break other traffic laws. Cyclists guilty of lane splitting can face penalties for traffic law violations. In the event of an accident while lane splitting, the courts will most likely place liability with the cyclist since he or she was operating the vehicle in a way that went against accepted standards.

There are still individuals and organizations pushing for the legalization of lane splitting in The Buckeye State with petitions to the Senate. As of today, however, lane splitting remains on the legal blacklist.