Is Lane Splitting Legal in Alabama? Short Answer: No.
Posted on Fri Aug 13, 2021
Every automobile driver has seen it. Traffic congestion has slowed to a bumper-to-bumper standstill. It’s hot and uncomfortable. Out of nowhere comes a motorcyclist zipping between lanes. A driver’s first two typical thoughts are 1) that has to be illegal, and 2) that’s not fair.
This is called lane splitting. It’s a practice that states are coming under pressure to legalize. Supporters of lane splitting argue that it will reduce highway congestion. There are more vehicles of every type on the road today. In the United States, the average driver lost 97 hours (4 days) a year in traffic. Birmingham, Alabama, ranked 173rd globally with a traffic congestion level of 15% at any given time. This may be a valid point. It does not, however, reduce the risk to drivers and cyclists.
Motorcycle accidents continue to account for significant road trauma in the United States. There were 5,286 motorcycle deaths in America in 2016. There were 114 in Alabama — an increase of 5.1% over the previous year.
Do lane-splitting benefits outweigh the real risks to drivers? Is lane splitting even legal in Alabama? Beyond that is the more important question: who’s responsible or negligent in an accident involving lane splitting? Read on to learn more about the legality of lane splitting in Alabama.
Is Lane Splitting Legal In Alabama?
Is lane splitting legal in Alabama? The simple answer is no. It’s actually illegal in 49 of the 50 states. The most important reason is that it’s dangerous not only to the motorcyclist but also to automobile drivers. It’s also currently illegal because of the way that Alabama treats motorcycles and cars in any situation.
The 2006 Alabama code for operating motorcycles on roadways (section 32-5A-242) reads as follows:
All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane, and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane.
The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.
The state does not allow motorcycles to do anything that an automobile would not be able to do. They also have the same right to a full lane as an automobile.
This presents a stumbling block in accidents caused by a lane-splitting motorcyclist. Since Alabama is one of the strictest states in the country in applying its law against lane splitting.
Lane Splitting’s Effect on Personal Injury Compensation
The law is clear — lane splitting is not legal in Alabama. A lane-splitting motorcyclist is at the very least guilty of contributory negligence. This means that if the court determines that the motorcyclist is at fault to any degree — even 1% — that person cannot seek any financial recovery.
This applies to any form of compensation, up to and including the possible death of the motorcyclist, such as:
Pain & suffering
Punitive damages from reckless driving or wrongful death
The immediate moments following any type of accident are very confusing. A lane-splitting accident involving a hit-and-run motorcyclist is even worse. A motorcyclist can sometimes flee the scene quickly, explaining why Alabama has adopted strict hit-and-run laws.
It’s always in a driver’s interest to have as much insurance protection as possible. This includes uninsured motorist (UM), underinsured motorist (UIM), and medpay insurance. Alabama’s auto insurance system is fault-based. This means an accident victim typically files a claim with a negligent driver’s insurance company. That person may only carry minimal or not enough coverage. It may also not be possible to identify the driver in a hit and run. UM and UIM can help with any financial difficulties stemming from the accident. Medpay will cover medical costs in any accident-related situation.
Get the Coverage You Need
If you’ve been in an accident with a lane-splitting motorcyclist, you may seek out a personal injury attorney to ask, “Is lane splitting legal in Alabama?” It is not.
Warren & Simpson takes pride in helping innocent victims who’ve been injured by others’ negligence. Warren & Simpson is also nationally recognized as being amongst the best and most experienced trial lawyers in the country.
Your injuries and damages deserve the best attention and care possible. Contact Warren & Simpson today. The road to recovery begins with a simple phone call.