No, motorcycle lane splitting is not legal in Chicago or anywhere else in Illinois. According to the Illinois Vehicle Code, it is illegal for a motorcyclist to pass between any two lanes of moving vehicles simultaneously. This means that no matter what type of road you are on or how congested traffic is, it is always illegal to drive between other cars while riding your motorcycle in Chicago and all throughout the state.
In this Article
Lane Splitting Prohibited by Illinois Law
625 ILCS 5/11-703 states that:
(c) The driver of a 2 wheeled vehicle may not, in passing upon the left of any vehicle proceeding in the same direction, pass upon the right of any vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless there is an unobstructed lane of traffic available to permit such passing maneuver safely.
The description of this illegal maneuver covers lane splitting and filtering of traffic lanes, as any of these actions would involve a rider passing on the right of another vehicle without an empty lane to pass in.
In What States Is Lane Splitting Legal?
While lane splitting is illegal in Chicago and throughout Illinois, you might be wondering if it’s legal in any other states. Currently, California is the only state where motorcycle lane splitting is legal. In 2016, California became the first state to enact a law officially legalizing lane splitting. Many other states are considering statutes to legalize lane splitting.
States with No Lane Splitting Laws
If you are planning to ride your motorcycle across state lines, it’s important to note that there are also a handful of states that don’t specifically prohibit or mention lane splitting in the traffic laws that govern riders. Though many of these don’t specifically have lane splitting laws prohibiting the maneuver, there is plenty of information that suggests it may still get a rider a traffic ticket for unsafe riding. These include: Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio.
Although it can be advantageous for motorcyclists in certain situations, riders should still use caution when engaging this practice due to the potential risks involved.
States Where Lane Filtering Is Legal
There are also several states that allow lane filtering, but not lane splitting. These include Arizona, Utah, Montana, and Virginia. Hawaii allows shoulder surfing but not lane splitting or lane filtering.
States Considering Legislation About Lane Splitting
Because many states are considering lane splitting legislation or have attempted to pass legislation that has failed, it is important to do a quick search to find out what’s the current lane splitting legal status in whatever state you’re planning on riding in. As of May 2023, Oregon and Tennessee are both considering bills to allow lane splitting, but do not currently allow it. Colorado is considering a bill to allow a study on lane splitting.
What Is the Difference Between Lane Sharing, Lane Filtering, Lane Splitting, and Shoulder Surfing?
Although the terms “lane sharing,” “lane filtering,” “lane splitting,” and “shoulder surfing” are often used interchangeably, there is a subtle difference among them. The Illinois Motorcycle Operator Manual notes that lane sharing is generally discouraged. Shoulder surfing, lane filtering, and lane splitting motorcyclists are explicitly prohibited in Chicago and throughout Illinois.
This is when more than one vehicle attempts to fit in the same lane. This practice is described as extremely dangerous in the Illinois rider’s manual and riders are encouraged to ride in the center of their lane to help prevent drivers of larger vehicles from attempting to share a lane.
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist passes between two moving vehicles while they are all going in the same direction. This is not allowed under Illinois law and is a potentially dangerous maneuver that can lead to a motorcycle accident and debilitating injuries for the rider.
Refers to riding a motorcycle between stationary or slow moving traffic, or moving vehicles on the left-hand side of the road. This is also not legal under Illinois law.
Shoulder surfing is a maneuver allowed in Hawaii where a rider may pass stopped traffic by using the space on the shoulder of the road. This is also not legal under Illinois law.
Is Lane Filtering Legal in Chicago?
No, lane filtering is not legal in Chicago or anywhere else in Illinois. This practice involves riding a motorcycle between two lanes of stationary or slow-moving vehicles on the left-hand side of the road, a practice that is illegal under Illinois lane splitting laws. If you are caught violating this law, you may be subject to fines and other penalties for improper lane usage.
Why Do Motorcycles Split Lanes?
Motorcyclists may engage in lane splitting for a variety of reasons such as to maneuver through traffic congestion, to navigate stopped traffic, get past slow traffic, or to avoid road hazards, or move into an unobstructed lane. Although it can be beneficial in some situations, even when lane splitting is legal, motorcycle riders should always use caution when attempting to lane split between lanes of traffic due to the potential risks involved.
It is important to remember that lane splitting is illegal in Chicago and all throughout Illinois, so it’s best to ride safely and follow the rules of the road at all times.
Injured Riding? Get Help
If you have been injured while lane splitting in Chicago or anywhere else in the state, The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers can help you receive justice. Our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys understand the law and will work hard to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your losses and.
The Dangers of Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is a dangerous practice and can lead to serious accidents. Motorcyclists are at an increased risk of injury in the event of a collision due to their lack of protection when compared to drivers and passengers of enclosed vehicles. Because lane splitting is a maneuver most car drivers will be unfamiliar with, they may be even less aware of the need to look for riders in a situation where a biker may choose to lane split. This is a deadly combination for riders.
Examples of Motorcycle Lane Splitting Accidents
Some common scenarios where lane splitting can lead to a catastrophic accident for the motorcycle rider include:
A rider attempts to pass between traffic and a parked car and is doored and thrown from their bike while lane splitting.
A rider passes between two vehicles and a vehicle ahead of them suddenly changes lanes, leading to a collision between the lane splitting motorcyclist and the other driver.
A driver ahead of the lane splitting motorcyclist taps on their brakes, which causes the rider to lose control in a high-side and crash.
A motorcyclist lane splits in stop and go traffic and is riding significantly faster than the rest of the traffic and lowsides when swerving to avoid a car they were overtaking when it unexpectedly changes lanes.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured
It is important to keep in mind that the potential risks associated with lane splitting far outweigh any benefits, which is why it is illegal throughout Illinois. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence while lane splitting or riding a motorcycle in Chicago or anywhere else in Illinois, The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Lawyers are here to help.
Who is Liable for an Accident Involving Lane Splitting?
In the event of an accident involving lane splitting, liability can be difficult to determine. Depending on the circumstances, as long as you are not more than 50% responsible for the accident, you may be eligible for compensation.
Find Out What Your Case Is Worth
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash due to someone else’s negligence, The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers can assist you in pursuing justice. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how our experienced attorneys can help you with your own traffic accident case.
What Is the Penalty for Lane Splitting in Illinois?
Nowhere in Illinois is lane splitting legal, and splitting lanes and can result in fines and points on your license for improper lane usage.
Petty Traffic Violation Penalties
If lane splitting is the only violation, and is not combined with speeding for example, the ticket may be for a petty traffic violation and cost anywhere between $1-$1000.
If a rider is cited for improper lane usage along with a Class A misdemeanor offence, such as a DUI or driving over 35mph above the speed limit, the penalty can be up to one year in prison and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. The fines get more and more severe for Class B and Class C misdemeanors.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Motorcycle Accident Involving Lane Splitting?
If you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident involving the lane splitting law, it is important to seek legal counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can provide guidance and help you navigate the legal system as well as ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
Having an understanding of Illinois laws regarding lane splitting and lane filtering is essential for motorcyclists in Chicago and across the state. It’s important to remember that lane is illegal in Illinois and could result in fines or even imprisonment.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash due to someone else’s negligence while lane splitting, The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers can help you receive the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your rights and legal options.
Riding a Motorcycle Safely
Riders should be aware that lane splitting is illegal in Chicago and motorcyclists should take further precautions recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when riding on Illinois roads.
Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear such as gloves, jackets and boots
Obey all traffic laws and be aware of your surroundings at all times