Is Lane Splitting Legal in Colorado? (2024) – Motorcycle Laws CO

Is Lane Splitting Legal

Many drivers across the country are familiar with “lane splitting,” but this term is often misconstrued. The definition of lane splitting is any instance in which a driver passes between lanes of slower-moving drivers or when they occupy space next to another vehicle in the same lane. Lane splitting is illegal in the state, so if you’ve been in an accident and splitting lanes was involved, you need to speak with a Denver car accident lawyer. This term is most often applicable to motorcyclists who will sometimes engage in lane splitting to pass between slower lanes of traffic, taking advantage of the small size and maneuverability of their vehicles.

Lane splitting is dangerous for many reasons and as such has been deemed illegal by state lawmakers. The state’s House Committee rejected a 2016 bill seeking the legalization of lane splitting, citing safety concerns. Supporters of the bill claimed that lane splitting can often help motorcyclists stay safer in some situations and reduce the chances of motorcycle accidents happening. However, state lawmakers deemed the practice too dangerous to justify any potential benefits.

An important note is that two motorcyclists can ride side-by-side in the same lane without breaking Colorado law. This can make them more visible to nearby drivers, especially at night, and reduce the chances of an accident. In addition, motorcycles are smaller than most other vehicles and, therefore, easier to get lost in nearby drivers’ blind spots.

Arguments Regarding Lane Splitting

There are some situations in which lane splitting can help a motorcyclist avoid an accident. For example, if a driver in front of them suddenly brakes, they can move between that driver and the lane next to them to avoid striking the other vehicle from behind. Similarly, if they are slowing down and notice a vehicle in their rear-view mirror that is about to hit them, splitting the lane ahead of them could enable them to avoid being hit from behind. Rear-end collisions are a leading cause of catastrophic or fatal accidents for motorcyclists.

Opponents of lane splitting cite an increased risk of accidents from the practice. For example, when a motorcyclist splits a lane, they can startle other drivers, causing them to swerve and crash into other drivers. It’s also possible for a lane-splitting rider to misjudge the space they have between two lanes of traffic, resulting in a sideswipe accident. Ultimately, motorcyclists and all other drivers are not allowed to split lanes, and doing so can not only cause accidents but also result in fines and other penalties.

What to Do After a Lane Splitting Accident

If you are involved in any accident caused by lane splitting, fault will likely fall to the driver who split the lane. Since the practice is illegal, any driver who causes an accident by intentionally committing a moving offense will absorb liability for the damages. When you are unsure how to prove fault for a recent accident, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Your attorney can help gather the evidence you are likely to need to prove liability for your accident. This may include statements from any witnesses who saw the accident happen in real time, or you may require expert witness testimony from a professional who can explain the technical details of how your accident occurred. Once you have proven fault, you can proceed with seeking accountability for your damages.

Recovery from a motor vehicle accident typically starts with an auto insurance claim against the at-fault driver, followed by a personal injury suit if insurance cannot fully cover the victim’s damages. Your attorney will be invaluable not only for helping you meet the procedural requirements of the case, but also for maximizing your recovery. They may be able to identify channels of compensation you didn’t realize were available to you, enhancing the total amount of compensation you win from the at-fault driver. Ultimately, the sooner you consult legal counsel after an accident the more likely they are to help you maximize your case award.

Potential Damages From Lane Splitting Accidents

Lane splitting is inherently dangerous because the drivers a motorcyclist passes are generally not expecting a motorcycle to come speeding past them out of nowhere. Motorcycles are much smaller than standard passenger vehicles, making it easy for them to pass through other drivers’ blind spots. As a motorcycle approaches behind another driver to split a lane, they are likely to pass directly into the driver’s blind spot.

If a driver suddenly changes lanes or the motorcyclist cannot see a sudden curve ahead as they split a lane, it can lead to a very dangerous situation. Sideswipe accidents can send motorcyclists flying off of their bikes. They can not only suffer serious injuries from the initial impact of another vehicle hitting them but also the secondary impact of hitting the ground.

Even the highest quality helmets and riding gear can only provide limited protection in a motorcycle accident, especially when an accident occurs at high speeds. Additionally, it is possible for a motorcyclist to be thrown under the wheels of another vehicle after a lane splitting accident, potentially resulting in life-threatening injuries.

If you were recently injured in a motorcycle accident that happened while you were lane splitting, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages. However, you must accept the fact that because lane splitting is not legal, you are likely to incur some measure of fault for the resulting damages, and it is even possible for you to be held entirely to blame for the incident.

Understanding Comparative Fault in Vehicle Accident Cases

It’s vital to understand the importance of fault in any vehicle accident claim. The state enforces the fault rule for all vehicle accidents, so a driver at fault for an accident is liable for all resulting damages, but the victim cannot recover compensation until they firmly prove fault for the incident. When lane splitting comes into play in an accident case, Colorado’s modified comparative fault statute will likely apply.

Under the modified comparative fault rule, it is possible for a plaintiff to still recover compensation for their damages even if they are partially responsible for causing the incident. If a motorcyclist was lane splitting and was hit by another driver, comparative fault is likely to apply to their case and will diminish their recovery.

When comparative fault applies in a civil suit, each liable party has a fault percentage assigned. These percentages indicate their respective shares of the damages in the claim they must repay. If a plaintiff is found partially liable, they may only claim compensation from the defendant if they are less than 50% at fault. Their fault percentage is taken from their case award as a penalty, so, for example, 10% fault means they lose 10% of the total compensation taken from the defendant.

If a plaintiff is found 50% or more at fault, they cannot seek compensation for their damages from any other liable party. Because lane splitting is not legal in Colorado, it is possible for this behavior to prevent an injured motorcyclist from securing compensation after an accident. If you have any concerns about lane splitting interfering with your recovery efforts after a motorcycle crash, it is vital to consult an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

FAQs Lane Splitting in Colorado

Can You Legally Split a Lane on a Motorcycle?

The short answer is no, Colorado law forbids lane splitting for all drivers. However, it is legal for two motorcyclists to ride side-by-side in the same lane. This can, in some cases, improve the flow of traffic and help motorcyclists be more visible to nearby drivers. A single motorcyclist in the middle of their lane is more likely to fall within another driver’s blind spot.

Is Lane Filtering the Same as Lane Splitting?

Colorado law differentiates between lane splitting and lane filtering, but both are illegal in the state. Lane splitting refers to a driver occupying space in the same lane next to another vehicle or passing between lanes of slower-moving vehicles. Lane filtering can apply when traffic comes to a stop and a motorcyclist moves between lanes of stopped vehicles to be at the head of the pack once the light changes.

What Are the Penalties for Lane Splitting?

If a driver splits a lane and a police officer stops them, they will receive a Class A traffic infraction punishable by a fine and points on their driver’s license. If a driver accrues too many points they will lose their license and can face additional penalties, such as loss of their auto insurance coverage or significantly increased insurance premiums.

What Happens If Lane Splitting Causes an Accident?

Colorado is a fault state when it comes to resolving car accidents, so whichever driver is responsible for the accident absorbs liability for all resulting damages. If a driver lane splits and a crash results, they are likely to be found at fault for the damages. If you don’t know how to prove liability for your recent accident it is important to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has a great deal of experience representing clients in all types of motor vehicle accident cases, including motorcycle accidents and other accidents caused by lane splitting. If you believe another driver is liable for your recent accident, we can help hold them accountable for your damages. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team to learn more about the legal services we offer.

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