Is Lane Splitting Legal in Indiana?

May 8

Motorcycles are unique vehicles with abilities that aren’t afforded to regular passenger vehicles. With only two wheels, they are smaller and able to move more quickly into spaces that other motor vehicles can’t. One example of this is lane splitting. Motorcycles, being smaller than other vehicles on the road, can move between lanes of traffic. This is called lane splitting and is legal in some states when traffic stops or moves slowly. 

However, lane splitting is not legal in Indiana. Under IC § 9-21-10-6, drivers on Indiana roads are entitled to the “full use of a traffic lane” they are legally occupying. While it’s legal for two motorcyclists to operate side-by-side in one lane, splitting lanes is against the law.

If you or someone you love was involved in a lane splitting accident in Indiana, it’s essential that you contact a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney for help as soon as possible. 


Lane Splitting Defined

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines lane splitting as when a motorcyclist travels “between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars.” Scooter riders and some other motorists may also practice lane splitting, which is legal in some states but not in Indiana.


Why do Motorcyclists Split Lanes?

Motorcyclists split lanes for a variety of reasons, which can include the following:

  • Their motorcycle is narrow enough to fit between neighboring vehicles.
  • They believe that they can split lanes without causing an accident.
  • Lane splitting allows them to avoid traffic.
  • They experience a positive emotion, such as exhilaration, when driving between other vehicles.
  • They experience an emotion, such as rage or frustration, that compels them to split lanes when they wouldn’t under other circumstances.

However, no matter the reason for a motorcyclist splitting lanes, their decision to drive between vehicles is illegal.


The Dangers of Lane Splitting

Lane splitting presents potentially dangerous situations to the motorcyclist, other motorists, and pedestrians on or near the road. When riders decide to split lanes, they count on other motorists to act predictably, cautiously, and attentively. Unfortunately, operating under this assumption comes with many risks.

Lane splitting is illegal in Indiana due to these risks. For example, it can cause a motorcycle accident when and if:


Other Motorists Changing Lanes

Suppose another motorist switches lanes without the lane-splitting motorcyclist anticipating it. In that case, the motorcyclist may collide with the vehicle while it’s changing lanes.


A Biker Loses Control of Their Motorcycle

Bikers reduce their margin for error when they decide to split lanes. They have plenty of room when traveling only in their own traffic lane. However, when they split lanes, the motorcyclist is exceptionally close to vehicles on both of their sides. If they lose control of their bike, the risk of an accident is extreme.


Someone Opens a Vehicle Door

Legal or not, other motorists and their passengers sometimes open their doors when they are in stand-still traffic. 

It’s always reasonable for someone inside a vehicle to check their mirrors and blind spots before opening a door, but unfortunately, they don’t always do so. A lane-splitting motorcyclist may hit the open door of a vehicle, causing a severe accident.


Can You Receive Compensation After a Lane-Splitting Accident?

Suppose another party’s negligence caused you harm. In that case, you might be able to receive compensation for your damages after a lane-splitting accident. Our experienced Indiana motorcycle accident lawyers can review the details of your accident and injuries to determine what you might be entitled to recover. Your recoverable damages after a lane-splitting accident may include the following:

  • Medical diagnosis and treatment: You shouldn’t have to pay for any medical care that was necessary due to another person’s negligence. 
  • Pain and suffering: Accident victims deserve financial compensation for their pain, trauma, and other types of suffering, including any scarring or disfigurement.
  • Lost wages: If you can’t go to work or earn your wages due to medical appointments or the severity of your injuries prevents you from going to work, you deserve compensation for your lost wages and income.
  • Lost earning power: Sometimes severe accidents prevent victims from returning to their pre-accident employment. In addition to current lost wages and income, an injury settlement or civil judgment may compel the liable party or their insurance company to replace the difference between your pre- and post-accident earning power.
  • Vehicle damages: The liable party to a motor vehicle accident may also be held accountable for repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle.
  • Wrongful Death: Sadly, sometimes, lane splitting causes death in motorcycle accidents. If you lost a loved one in such an accident, you could recover wrongful death damages for your loss in such an accident.


Liability in Lane Splitting Accidents

The motorcyclist who splits lanes may be liable for a resulting accident. However, each motorcycle accident has its unique circumstances. For instance, liability is often more complex if the other motorist involved in the accident was negligent, such as distracted driving or drunk driving. Whether you are a motorist, motorcyclist, or another party impacted by a lane-splitting collision, your Indiana motorcycle accident attorney can explain whether you might deserve compensation for your damages. If so, they can help you pursue them.


Were You Involved in a Lane Splitting Accident? An Indiana Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help

At Blackburn Romey, we know how devastating motor vehicle accidents can be. Our accident attorneys are happy to provide no-obligation case consultations to those injured in motorcycle accidents or their family members. Call us at 833.264.0903 or use our online contact form today to learn more about how we can help.

Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Tom Blackburn, who has more than 47 years of legal experience, including over 39 years specializing as a personal injury attorney.