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Is Lane Splitting Legal in Oklahoma?

Posted on: September 4, 2019 by Edwards & Patterson Law

Motorcycle passing through lane splitting despite traffic.

Many motorcyclists in Oklahoma consider lane splitting to be safe. They argue that it helps to ease congestion on the roads, and it allows them to get ahead of traffic and avoid getting trapped between two vehicles. However, many others argue that lane splitting is not safe, and it actually raises the risk of motorcycle accidents. Regardless of what your thoughts on lane splitting may be, you should know this – it is illegal in Oklahoma.

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting refers to riding a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic while moving in the same direction. Generally, bikers only lane split when traffic is moving slowly or stopped. The practice is also commonly called “white-lining” or “stripe-riding.”

Lane splitting allows bikers to move ahead of traffic. For example, at a red light, a biker can move between the cars and get ahead of the first vehicle. Doing so allows a motorcyclist to accelerate faster and move out of traffic rather than remain stuck in it.

Oklahoma Law Prohibits Lane Splitting

Under Okla. Stat. tit. 47, § 11-1103, it is illegal for a motorcycle operator to “pass other vehicles between lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction” unless it is an “authorized emergency vehicle” like a police motorcycle. The ban on lane splitting applies to those who ride scooters and mopeds as well.

The law serves an important safety purpose. After all, motorists must be able to see and predict the actions of motorcyclists. If a motorcyclist travels in the same lane of traffic as surrounding vehicles, it will be much easier for motorists to see the motorcycle and predict where it is going.

However, if a biker lane splits, a motorist may be unable to see the motorcycle or expect it to pass. As a result, the motorist may sideswipe or turn in front of the motorcyclist, or the motorist may become startled and take some other action that leads to a serious if not deadly collision.

Who Is At Fault for an Accident Caused by Lane Splitting?

When a vehicle driver or motorcycle operator fails to act in a reasonable, prudent manner and puts the safety of themselves and others at risk, it is considered to be negligence. The violation of laws that are designed to prevent accidents is a type of negligence. For instance, negligence is presumed when a driver speeds, fails to obey traffic controls or drives with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit (0.08 for most drivers).

Motorcyclists can also be considered negligent when they split lanes in violation of Oklahoma law. So, if a motorcyclist is lane splitting at the time of a collision with another driver, an insurance company will likely claim that the motorcyclist’s own negligence at least partially contributed to the crash and the motorcyclist’s injuries. However, if the motorcyclist seeks compensation for his or her injuries, the motorcyclist is not left without any recourse.

Oklahoma follows a modified comparative fault system. It recognizes that two or more people can be partially at fault for the same accident. So, in a lane splitting accident, both the biker and the other motorist could share fault. For instance, a motorist may have been texting while driving and, as a result, failed to see a motorcycle rider who was lane splitting.

Under Oklahoma law, a person’s damages are reduced according to the degree of fault assigned to him or her. If a person is 50 percent or more at fault for an accident, the person is barred from recovering any compensation.

For example, if a car driver made an illegal turn in front of you while you were lane splitting on a motorcycle, you may be found to have been 10 percent at fault. So, if you suffered $100,000 in damages, your compensation would be reduced by 10 percent. The most you could recover would be $90,000 in damages. However, if you were 50 percent or more at fault, you would recover nothing.

What You Should Do After a Lane Splitting Accident

The moments after a lane splitting accident can be frightening. Knowing the proper steps to take will help to ensure your safety after the accident and protect any future claim that you file. Those steps include:

  • Call police. First and foremost, you must check to make sure that you and everyone else is OK. If anyone is hurt, call 911 right away. You will want police and emergency medical responders to get to the scene as soon as possible.
  • Move your bike. If you can, you should move your bike off the road when it becomes safe to do so. Leaving your motorcycle in the road could cause a secondary accident, and you could be held liable for it.
  • Gather evidence. As in any crash, it is important to document as much as possible after a lane splitting accident. Take pictures of your bike, the other vehicles involved in the crash and anything else relevant to the accident such as lane markings, debris and traffic signs or lights.
  • Exchange information. You will need to exchange information with the other motorists involved in the crash. Write down their names, contact information, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers and insurance information. Also, write down the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Get medical treatment. You should see a doctor as soon as you can after the accident. It will be crucial for a doctor to examine you and document any injuries that you have suffered.
  • Contact your insurance company. Most insurance policies require you to do this even if you were not at fault for the crash. You typically must report the accident within 24 hours after it happens. Stick to the facts and never admit or assign fault to anyone. If another motorist’s insurance company contacts you, asks for a statement or makes a settlement offer, you should speak with a lawyer first.

Our Oklahoma Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Help You

One of the most important steps you can take after a crash is to contact a Tulsa motorcycle accident attorney at Edwards & Patterson Law. We will explain your legal options, and we will fight for all compensation that you are due. Get started today with your free consultation.

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