Is Lane Splitting Legal in Kentucky?

Lane splitting, lane filtering, lane sharing, and shoulder surfing are motorcycle maneuvers that fall under a state’s traffic code. Many states prohibit lane splitting. California is the only state where it is legal, although Arizona, Connecticut, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington are considering legalizing the practice. Using such maneuvers anywhere will likely result in an accident. Louisville motorcycle accident attorneys do not recommend using such maneuvers on public streets… regardless of whether it’s legal or not.

Lane Splitting vs. Lane Filtering vs. Lane Sharing

State traffic codes dictates the rules of the road for motorcyclists. Lane splitting, filtering, and sharing are three maneuvers not covered under Kentucky’s traffic laws. That means they are neither legal nor illegal. However, law enforcement may cite drivers if they believe a driver was operating their vehicle in an unsafe manner.

  • Lane Splitting: Driving between two lanes of traffic can be dangerous, especially when moving at high speeds. In states where splitting is legal, the maximum speed is usually less than 30 miles per hour. These states also only allow this maneuver to be performed in specifically marked lanes meant for motorcycles. These lanes are made so that motorcyclists can drive on pavement rather than painted lines as they can reduce traction.
  • Lane Filtering: Filtering occurs when motorcyclists move between lanes of stopped traffic. Moving between stop-and-go rush hour traffic lanes is often considered filtering rather than splitting.
  • Lane Sharing: Motorcyclists must stagger their bikes if they decide to share lanes. They cannot ride side-by-side in the same lane as stated in Kentucky’s Motorcycle Manual, Revised 2023.

Another maneuver that is prohibited by Kentucky law is shoulder surfing or driving on the shoulder—regardless of vehicle type. By discussing Kentucky’s motorcycle laws with knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorneys, Louisville residents can ensure they are always driving as safely as possible.

Should You Consider Lane Splitting and Filtering?

Legalizing lane splitting and filtering is hotly debated. Proponents cite studies showing that these maneuvers reduce the risk to motorcyclists in slow or stopped traffic. Because they can move between lanes, motorcycles are less likely to be rear-ended. Lane splitting and filtering can also reduce traffic congestion and reduce fuel emissions caused by halted traffic.

Opponents argue that such practices are too risky. They will point out that most motorcyclists lack the skills necessary to safely navigate between lanes of moving traffic and that passenger vehicle drivers are not accustomed to watching out for bikers in traffic. Some opponents cite road rage as another possible risk factor, as car drivers can become frustrated at the lack of movement during traffic jams and are more prone to erratic behavior.

Studies support both sides of this debate. However, the following tips should help if you are considering using maneuvers that are not specifically outlawed but can still be quite dangerous.

  • Keep revs low to avoid distracting other drivers.
  • Travel no more than ten miles faster than the surrounding traffic.
  • Make sure you are physically and mentally alert.
  • Remember, the law does not protect you from driving unsafely.

Do Neighboring States Allow Lane Splitting?

Of all the states near Kentucky, only Missouri does not consider lane splitting to be illegal. As is the case in Kentucky, law enforcement can use their own discretion to decide if a certain driving maneuver was illegal. Lane splitting has been outlawed in the following states:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Motorcyclists should know that some states do not differentiate between lane splitting and lane filtering. Regardless of speed, driving between traffic in any form is considered lane splitting and may be illegal.

What Motorcyclists Should Remember

Motorcyclists should stay current on traffic laws in their state and understand whether a driving maneuver falls in the legal gray area of not being strictly prohibited, such as lane filtering and splitting. If involved in an accident, motorcyclists and drivers of other vehicles alike should reach out to motorcycle accident attorneys in Louisville and get a consultation. Again, it’s important to remember that just because something isn’t strictly illegal— doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous or subject to a citation.

Contact Our Motorcycle Accident Attorneys in Louisville

Sam Aguiar Injury Lawyers is ready to help if you have been involved in a motorcycle accident. Our experienced team will listen to your case free of charge and review all the options available to you under Kentucky law. Contact Sam Aguiar Injury lawyers today for answers to all your motorcycle accident questions.