As a motorcyclist, it can be tempting to take advantage of your vehicle’s size to bypass traffic by riding beside or passing between two rows of traffic in the same lane. This practice, known as lane splitting or white lining, is legal in some states.
In Alabama, however, lane splitting is prohibited by law. While many motorcyclists may choose to split lanes anyway, it is important to remember that doing so is illegal and may be held against you in determining fault if you are in an accident.
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Alabama Law and Lane Splitting
Under Alabama law, motorcycles are treated much in the same way as cars. A motorcycle is entitled to an entire lane’s worth of space, just like a car. But like any other vehicle on the road, a motorcyclist is not permitted to pass other vehicles in the same lane or to ride beside them in the same lane. Motorcyclists also cannot ride past traffic in the space between two marked lanes for traffic on the white line. For example, this means a motorcycle cannot try to split the gap between two vehicles running parallel to each other in adjacent lanes. The only exception is that two motorcycles can ride beside each other or staggered in the same lane in what is called lane sharing.
Lane sharing is legal in Alabama, as long as only two motorcycles are riding side-by-side or a staggered formation. Three or more motorcycles may not share the same lane. When the motorcycles need to pass a vehicle, they must do so in the next lane over.
For motorcyclists, being treated like a car has pros and cons. On the one hand, car drivers are expected to give motorcyclists the same space and respect as they would to any other vehicles on the road, and they also cannot pass you in the same lane. On the other hand, you are unable to use what many see as one of the greatest advantages of riding a motorcycle. Furthermore, if you find yourself in a difficult situation with a driver who is not paying attention and respecting your place on the road, it could be difficult to get away from them. But like it or not, in Alabama, the prohibition on lane splitting is the law. If you need to pass a car, you will have to do so in another lane.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Whether or not you were lane splitting or sharing a lane with another motorcycle, a motorcycle accident has the potential to be deadly. If you find yourself in a collision, there are a number of important steps to take:
- Check to make sure everyone involved is okay.
- Call 911. Even if you don’t need an ambulance, you will need the police to write a report.
- Get the other driver’s insurance and contact information, as well as their license plate number.
- Get a thorough medical exam as soon as possible.
- Notify your insurance company.
In any personal injury claim, having the evidence on your side is important for determining who was at fault. If you were not lane splitting, be sure to make this clear in your statement.
Contact Us for Legal Help After a Motorcycle Crash
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident in Alabama, an experienced lawyer can help you seek the compensation you need and deserve. The Huntsville personal injury attorneys of Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., have years of experience fighting for personal injury victims like you. We understand the intricacies of Alabama traffic law and how it affects our clients’ cases. For more information on how we can help, call us now or contact us online for a free consultation.
Harvey B. Morris is a lifelong Alabamian who has been practicing law in Huntsville since getting his law degree and passing the state bar in 1966.