Motorcycle riding and its culture are on the rise in Missouri, as more people are turning to the vehicles for recreation and every day transportation. As there are more riders participating in dense traffic, we are asked a common question these days: is lane splitting legal in Missouri?
This question is pertinent because another driver or an insurance company may try to automatically find you at fault for lane splitting in the event of an accident. There are stringent lane splitting laws in the United States, but Missouri is one of the few states that does not expressly prohibit it.
Thus, it is worth brushing up on lane splitting laws, practices, and the legal and safety ramifications of lane splitting in Missouri.
What is Splitting Lanes?
Line splitting is riding a motorcycle between multiple lanes or rows of traffic going the same direction. It can also be called stripe riding or whitening, and its practical use is to save time in traffic.
While most people focus on lane splitting as a technique for speed, it also can be used for safety as well. Splitting lanes is a great way to get out of another driver’s blind spot, or to avoid rear end collisions in circumstances where a bike may not be seen as easily. Because motorcycles are smaller and lighter than normal cars, they are prone to being bumped if other drivers are not paying attention – lane splitting helps mitigate this.
In what states is lane splitting legal?
Missouri falls under the category of ‘not mentioned and not specifically prohibited’ in legislature. It joins 11 other states in this category, while California, Hawaii, and Utah have either full legality or modified versions. In total, that makes 15 states where the act is not illegal, and many states are considering legislation to fully legalize in the near future.
While there is no statewide ban against lane splitting in Missouri, you should check your city and county ordinances to see your specific laws; Kansas City is an example of a city with its own ordinance banning lane splitting.
The key to lane splitting not being expressly prohibited in Missouri motorcycle riding laws is that you cannot be targeted for it by police or insurance companies if you are doing it safely. This is tricky when there is not state legislature for it, but we recommend following the speed limit and all other normal MO motorcycle traffic laws while lane splitting so as not to create any grey area should a problem occur.
Ultimately, it seems likely that there will be legalization and a specific set of state laws for motorcycle riders in Missouri, but until then you will have to rely on common sense and normal traffic laws.
Lane Splitting Safety Tips
Lane splitting should be done cautiously and by experienced riders. Before adding lane-splitting to your motorcycle riding skills, we recommend following the following safety tips:
Always consider your full surroundings before beginning a lane split – these include lane width, traffic speed, weather, and visibility for you and vehicles around you.
Lane splitting is typically safer between the far left lanes of traffic than others because there is only one changing lane for parties to focus on.
Do not assume other drivers are paying attention or can always see you. Avoid riding in blind spots or lingering in between vehicles.
Wear brightly colored and/or reflective gear at all times of the day.
Use your high beams during daylight no matter what.
In all scenarios, keep in mind that because you can be easily targeted for lane splitting should an incident occur, it is not just your physical safety at stake. If you follow the road laws and are careful, you should be able to lane split effectively.
Lane Splitting Risks
Even with a strong knowledge of the Missouri road laws and tips for lane splitting, it can be dangerous if you don’t pay attention to certain things:
Moderate your speed while filtering (another term for lane splitting) – physics is undefeated.
Avoid lane splitting next to oversized vehicles such as big rigs or farm equipment.
Do not ride on the shoulder- this is not lane splitting, and is illegal except in Hawaii.
While lane splitting reduces the rate of motorcyclists getting rear-ended, it increases how often bikers will rear-end another car. In other words, watch your front!
Traffic might be too erratic to lane split. This is especially important to watch for during traffic jams or slow zones; while this is the most opportune way to save time, there might not be a reliable gap in each lane to safely split them.
Most of these risks and countermeasures are addressed in proper motorcycle education and skill-building. However, we always recommend riding as though other cars are not up to speed on the laws, policies and safety measures to keep you safe. Finally, knowing your rights and having access to proper representation will let you lane split confidently.
Speak with a Missouri Motorcycle Accident Attorney
At Law Tigers, we serve the Missouri motorcycle community proudly because we’re riders just like you. Our passion for keeping riders on the road has allowed us to become the foremost legal experts on accident and injury representation. We have decades of experience helping riders stay stress-free, healthy, and on the road.
If you are looking for representation in a case or want to learn more about lane-splitting laws in Missouri, reach out today – it’s better to ride with Law Tigers by your side.