2024 Is Lane Splitting Legal in North Carolina?

2024 Is Lane Splitting Legal in North Carolina?

Jun 16, 2023 | Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles are a fun and convenient way to get around, but they are also one of the most dangerous ways to get around. A motorcycle offers very little protection in the case of an accident, and while helmets and other gear might mitigate some of the damage, there is still significant risk. That’s why it’s critical that motorcyclists adhere to the rules of the road.

Drivers of surrounding vehicles could very easily be surprised by a motorcycle in a place where they would never expect a vehicle to be found. It’s those times that can be especially dangerous for a motorcyclist. The convenient size of motorcycles sometimes leads riders to make maneuvers that are technically illegal, although convenient. One of these, illegal in North Carolina, is lane splitting.

What Is Lane Splitting?

When two slower-moving cars are driving in lanes right next to each other, a motorcyclist might be tempted to shoot the gap between the two by driving on the white lines dividing the lanes. This process is what is known as “lane-splitting.”

Why Do Riders Split Lanes?

It seems likely that the prevailing reason that most motorcyclists split lanes is convenience. However, there are some motorcyclists who would argue the maneuver has broader upsides as well. Some might claim that, although risky, lane-splitting is safer than the risks of a potential rear-end collision in stop-and-go traffic. Others might claim that the practice can also help ease traffic congestion as it allows them to get off the road and out of the way more quickly.

Risks of Lane Splitting

Lane splitting, though, carries its share of risks. Because lane splitting brings motorcyclists so close to other vehicles, it reduces the margins that the other vehicles can safely drive within. For the driver of a car or truck, a momentary swerve or lapse in focus, moving the car just a few inches to the side, might previously have been nothing more than moving to a slightly different part of the lane they occupied. However, with a motorcyclist next to them, those things could very well mean contact with the motorcyclist.

The proximity to the other vehicles may also mean an increased risk of severe injury if there were a motorcycle accident. Bouncing off one vehicle and into another or even getting crunched between the two of them holds the potential for very serious injuries, including:

  • Road rash or burns
  • Strains, sprains, or tears
  • Dislocated or broken bones
  • Amputation
  • Internal injuries
  • Spinal cord, back, and shoulder injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Death

Lane Splitting in North Carolina

The statute addressing lane splitting in North Carolina doesn’t actually mention the term “lane splitting.” Instead, the statute mentions “lane sharing.” Some might claim this means lane splitting is not prohibited. However, that’s not the case. When a motorcyclist executes a lane-sharing maneuver, the result is three vehicles sharing two lanes. This means that someone is lane sharing, and since the motorcyclist initiated the sharing by lane splitting, they are who will be blamed.

Accident From Lane Splitting

If you’ve gotten in an accident from lane splitting, you are going to want a strong lawyer on your side. North Carolina has a fault rule for motor vehicle accidents. This means that whoever is deemed to be at fault will be open to having auto insurance claims against them.

Generally, because lane splitting isn’t legal, it’s going to be presumed that the fault belongs to the motorcyclist doing the lane splitting. However, there may be other circumstances at play that could mean another driver is actually at fault. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney in Hickory, NC, can help investigate the circumstances of the accident and put together a defense if needed. They can also clearly give the motorcyclist an explanation of their options given the evidence available.


Q: What Is Lane Splitting?

A: Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist drives through slower-moving traffic by driving between two cars in lanes next to each other that are driving roughly the same speed. The motorcycle passes between the two roughly on the white lines, which is why another term for the action is white-lining.

Q: Is it Illegal to Lane Splitting in North Carolina?

A: The answer to whether or not it is illegal in North Carolina is a little bit circuitous, although it is generally presumed to be illegal. The actual statute involved mentions lane sharing being illegal. While this doesn’t say the term “lane splitting,” we can recognize that if there are three vehicles across two lanes, then two of them must be sharing a lane, so lane splitting is then illegal in North Carolina.

Q: Is Lane Splitting Safer Than Sitting in Traffic?

A: One of the arguments some motorcyclists have made in favor of lane splitting is that it is better than staying in a crowded section of the road. California has made lane splitting explicitly legal in an attempt to reduce the risk of motorcyclists being rear-ended. As to whether lane splitting is safer, it is probably a matter of opinion and subject to the nature of individual circumstances. Whether safer or not, what’s more relevant is that it is illegal.

Q: Is Lane Filtering Illegal in North Carolina?

A: Motorcyclists sometimes use the terms “lane splitting” and “lane filtering” interchangeably, but they actually refer to slightly different maneuvers. Whereas lane splitting refers to moving traffic, lane filtering refers to stopped traffic. For instance, while everyone is stopped at a stop light, a motorcycle sliding between the cars to jump to the front of the traffic is an example of lane filtering. It, too, is illegal in North Carolina.

Seeking Damages From a Motorcycle Accident?

If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, then you may well need the help of a motorcycle Accident Attorney in Hickory, NC. We’ve got experience handling motorcycle accidents and traffic tickets of all sorts. Even if you were in a lane-splitting accident, you should allow our team to take a look at your case and see if there are some damages you may be able to seek. If you’re in Burke County, Catawba County, or Caldwell County, contact us and get the process started today.