Is Alabama Lane Splitting Illegal?
For motorcyclists, the legality of lane splitting is a hot topic. In some states, this practice is allowed, while in others, it is prohibited by law. In Alabama, lane splitting is illegal—but understanding the details of the law can help riders stay safe on the roads.
Lane splitting, or riding a motorcycle between two separate lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction, is currently illegal in Alabama. This means that motorcyclists in the Yellowhammer State have no way to weave in and out of slower-moving cars legally. The only state where lane splitting has been officially legalized is California, though other states are considering legislation.
Motorcyclists believe this practice can make high-volume roads safer by reducing their exposure to potentially dangerous conditions. Meanwhile, some motorists claim that lane splitting can create hazardous conditions for vehicle drivers. Still, others feel it should be outlawed everywhere for its potential to lead to accidents.
While other states are exploring legalizing lane splitting, Alabama has yet to consider this option. Until then, motorcyclists must adhere strictly to the law on this matter.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist drives between two rows of cars sharing the same lane. It’s also known as “white lining” because motorcycles often ride along the white line, denoting the edge of a lane. This practice may appeal to riders because it allows them to bypass lengthy traffic delays and quickly move from one place to another.
Lane Splitting Dangers
Motorcycle riders in Alabama must abide by the same regulations as other motorists on the road. According to the Alabama Code, motorcyclists are entitled to full use of their designated lane, and no car may encroach on that area. While lane-splitting – when a motorcycle moves between two vehicles going in the same direction – can offer riders a quick way to navigate traffic, it puts them at significant risk for an accident.
If a car changes lanes or makes a left-hand turn unexpectedly, a motorcycle rider who is lane-splitting can find themselves in a hazardous situation. Furthermore, when drivers don’t pay close attention to motorcycles, incidents can occur regardless of the biker’s circumstances – lane splitting just increases the odds of an accident due to the motorcyclist being placed in the car’s blind spot.
The best action for motorcyclists is to follow the regulations in Alabama Code § 32-5A-245 and ensure they make themselves visible whenever possible. Lane splitting should be avoided altogether to prevent potential disaster.
Alabama Law and Lane Splitting
In Alabama, however, lane splitting is prohibited by law. This means motorcycles must be given an entire lane’s space like a car—they cannot pass or share the same lane with other vehicles. The only exception is that two motorcycles can ride side-by-side or staggered, in what is called “lane sharing.” But three or more motorcycles may not share the same lane, and they must pass other vehicles in the next lane over.
Pros of Being Treated Like A Car
Being treated like a car can benefit motorcyclists: car drivers are expected to give them the same courtesy and respect as any other vehicle on the road, and they cannot pass you in the same lane.
Cons of Being Treated Like A Car
On the other hand, the inability to use lane splitting means motorcyclists miss out on an advantage that many see as one of the greatest advantages of riding a motorcycle. Additionally, if a driver does not respect their space on the road, it might be harder to maneuver around or away from them without being able to utilize lane-splitting techniques.
Alabama Motorcycle Laws
In Alabama, motorcyclists have certain responsibilities to adhere to when riding on public roads. To lawfully operate a motorcycle, riders must possess a valid class M driver’s license by passing the knowledge and skills tests.
All motorcycle riders and passengers must wear a helmet while operating their vehicles per Alabama Code § 32-5A-245. Wearing appropriate headgear can significantly reduce the risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
LLane splitting is strictly prohibited in Alabama. This means that motorcyclists must not ride between lanes to navigate slow-moving traffic, regardless of the speed of the cars. Violation of the law could lead to fines or other consequences.
Motorcyclist Rights in Alabama
As a motorcyclist in Alabama, you are entitled to the same rights and protections as all other drivers on the road. This includes the right to control an entire lane, share a lane with another motorcycle, and be owed a duty of care by others.
When driving your motorcycle, it is important to remember that you have the right to take up an entire lane while navigating traffic. All other vehicles must respect this right and give you adequate space to operate safely. Additionally, you can ride side-by-side with another motorcycle in the same lane, although we recommend caution.
All parties on the road – including motorists, truckers, motorcycle manufacturers, and others – are held to a standard of care for motorcyclists. This means they must take reasonable steps to avoid putting bikers at risk through negligence.
Every motorcyclist must understand their rights under Alabama laws to stay safe while riding. Being aware of your rights and responsibilities ensures that your time on the road is always as enjoyable and safe as possible.
Lane Splitting & Injury Accident Cases
Lane splitting is not legal in Alabama and anyone who engages in it can be held legally accountable for their actions. This means that if a lane-splitting motorcyclist is found to be at fault, even by just 1%, then they won’t be able to claim any financial compensation for things such as damages, medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well as potential punitive damages from reckless driving or wrongful death.
The aftermath of a lane-splitting accident can be particularly traumatic, especially when the other driver decides to flee the scene. Because of this, Alabama has strict laws against hit-and-run incidents.
To ensure they are properly protected after an accident, motorists should have plenty of insurance coverage. It is best to have both uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage and medpay insurance to maximize protection. In Alabama, the auto insurance system is based on a fault principle, meaning that claims must typically be made with the negligent driver’s insurer. However, this may not always be possible if the driver cannot be identified in a hit-and-run accident. In such cases, UM/UIM and medpay insurance will help ensure the victim isn’t left with financial difficulties due to the accident.
In Alabama, lane splitting remains illegal. Motorcyclists must remain to obey all applicable laws and regulations so as to stay safe on the roads—and remember, if you need to pass a car, you’ll have to do so in another lane.