Is Lane Splitting Legal in Illinois?

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Illinois?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

A motorcycle sits at a stop light along with several cars. To save time, the motorcyclist decides to cut between the two cars and pass them so they can be closer to the red light as it turns green. This practice, called lane-splitting, may seem like a logical idea that makes travel more efficient. However, lane-splitting is dangerous and can lead to an accident and injury. Lane splitting is illegal in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois.

Illinois statute 625 ILCS 5/11-703(c) states that a person operating a two-wheel vehicle such as a moped, scooter, or motorcycle cannot pass two vehicles at the same time. If found guilty of lane-splitting, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to one year in jail. If a person has been hurt, the charge can become a Class C felony.

If you have been in an accident as a result of a motorcyclist practicing lane-splitting – or if a driver caused you injuries on your motorcycle – we recommend contacting an experienced Chicago car accident attorney. 

What Is Lane Splitting vs Lane Filtering?

Lane splitting is a common practice by motorcyclists that involves riding between rows of stopped or moving vehicles, including divided and undivided roads, streets, or highways. Riders turn the dotted line into a temporary or express lane in lane splitting.

Lane filtering occurs if a motorcycle overtakes a vehicle stopped at the same level as two or more adjacent traffic lanes in the same direction of travel.

Risks Associated With Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering

Although lane splitting is illegal in Chicago, many motorcyclists practice driving between lanes of slow-moving or stopped vehicles to navigate through traffic.

Even so, lane splitting presents unique dangers to riders and other road users. Lane splitting often results in vehicle accidents, with riders sustaining severe injuries and substantial motorcycle damage.

Here’s why lane splitting and lane filtering present unique dangers to riders:

  • Reduced Visibility: While lane-splitting, motorists are often in a vehicle’s blind spot. As a result, car drivers may not see a rider in time, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
  • Limited Reaction Time and Space: A lane-splitting motorcyclist doesn’t enjoy the space and time of an exclusive lane. As such, riders moving between lanes have less space and time to maneuver to changes in the traffic situation. Sudden car movement, including changing lanes without braking, often leads to car accidents.
  • Difference in Speed: A substantial difference in speed between a lane-splitting rider and the surrounding vehicles often leads to collisions. If a car driver makes an abrupt lane change, there’s an increased likelihood of a crash.
  • Unexpected Open Doors: When a rider is weaving between traffic of parked vehicles, an unanticipated open door can result in a car accident. An open door leaves a lane-splitting rider with little time and space to maneuver, leading to collisions.

Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering Injuries

Motorcycle occupants do not enjoy the same level of protection enclosed vehicles provide. As such, motorcycle riders sustain severe and fatal injuries. While most motorcycle accidents involve lower extremities, injuries to the head and chest are also common.

Specific injuries that riders suffer in lane splitting or lane filtering accidents include:

Can Lane Splitting Impact Your Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim?

Since lane splitting is illegal in Chicago, Illinois, it may impact the value of your settlement claim. You can expect the other party and their insurance company to raise the matter of lane-splitting and point the finger at you to try to avoid liability for your injuries and losses if you are an injured motorcyclist.

However, never assume that you do not have a case just because you are accused of lane-splitting. Sometimes, drivers falsely accuse motorcyclists of lane-splitting, as they do not understand what the term means. Other times, a motorcyclist might have been lane-splitting, but it might not have actually contributed to the accident.

Further, even if your lane-splitting partially contributed to the accident, you still have a chance at a partial recovery under Illinois law, and you should have a motorcycle accident attorney review your case.

An Experienced Attorney May Be Necessary For A Lane-Splitting Claim

A lawyer can help you to secure the right evidence to best prove your case. Securing a settlement can be easier if an accident results from a motorcyclist’s lane-splitting. However, a claim may still be filed if you have suffered injuries while lane-splitting. You may still be compensated for the accident if you can prove that the other party held more liability than you in causing the accident.

Due to the legal concept of comparative negligence, you may not recover damages if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident. Alternatively, if the other party carries more fault than you, you may recover damages relative to the amount of fault carried. For example, if the other party was found to carry 80% fault for the accident, and the damages total $50,000, you may be paid $40,000.

Lane-Splitting Puts Multiple People At Risk

Lane-splitting can be dangerous because little distance exists between vehicles, which means that you carry a higher risk of crashing into another vehicle. A car or larger vehicle may also struggle to see a motorist, which also makes one more prone to getting into an accident. In addition, the practice creates added confusion, as intersections can already feel chaotic due to congestion.

You Can Take Several Steps To Build A Claim

If you have been in a lane-splitting accident, there are several things you can do to lay the groundwork for developing a credible claim. You should:

  • File a police report.
  • Avoid admitting fault.
  • Seek medical help.
  • Continue to follow up with medical providers and track records, appointments, and progress.
  • Exchange insurance information with the other party.
  • Take photos of the scene and begin to document evidence.
  • Gather the contact information of any witnesses.

Contact An Experienced Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been in a lane-splitting accident, it is important to contact an accident attorney to help build evidence to support your claim. Attorneys at Malman Law have helped many clients recover damages from accidents. Schedule a consultation today.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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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 President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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