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Motorcycle Accidents: What to Know About Lane Splitting in Washington State

April 21, 2022 – Matt Albrecht

Motorcycle Accidents: Lane-Splitting in Washington State - Albrecht Law

Motorcycle safety is of the utmost importance. As emphasized by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), motorcyclists are significantly overrepresented among those severely injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions. It is imperative that all motorcycles know the rights and responsibilities, including how the motorcycle lane splitting laws work in our state. In this blog post, our Spokane motorcycle accident lawyer explains the most important things to know about lane splitting in Washington State.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting is Prohibited in Washington State

Motorcycle lane splitting occurs when a rider passes two vehicles in the middle of two separate lanes of traffic. It is now allowed in our state. Under, RCW 46.61.608(3), “no person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.

This is a major source of confusion for many riders because the nation’s largest state (California) does allow motorcycle lane splitting in certain circumstances. While motorcycle lane splitting may be permitted in California, it is against the law in Washington State.

A 2019 Reform Allows Motorcyclists to Pass Slow or Stalled Traffic on the Far Less

In 2019, there was a significant legislative reform effort aimed at changing Washington motorcycle laws. There was even an effort to legalize motorcycle lane splitting. A bill introduced in the legislature sought to make Washington’s motorcycle lane splitting laws similar to California’s laws. However, the bill did not get enough support to pass. Motorcycle lane splitting remains unlawful.

That being said, some motorcycle law changes were made in 2019. A reform bill was passed into law allowing motorcycles to pass two or more lanes of slow-moving or stalled traffic by using the far left lane. Lane splitting must still be avoided, but a far left lane pass may be lawful if a motorcyclist does so in a safe manner.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting Accidents: Comparative Negligence 

Washington is a comparative fault jurisdiction for motorcycle collisions. A motorcycle who was lane spitting when their accident occurred is likely to be found at least partially responsible for their own accident. As lane splitting is prohibited in Washington State, it is viewed as a form of negligence. However, that does not mean that an injured motorcyclist is automatically barred from recovering compensation. If the negligence of a motorist or any other party also contributed to the motorcycle accident, the injured biker may still be able to recover some compensation despite their lane splitting.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Spokane 

At‌ ‌Albrecht‌ ‌Law‌ ‌PLLC, our Spokane motorcycle accident attorney is a relentless, justice-driven advocate for injured victims. If you or your loved one was hurt in a motorcycle lane splitting crash, we can help you navigate the claims process. Contact our law firm now for a no cost, no strings attached review of your case. From our Spokane law offices, we handle motorcycle accident claims throughout Spokane County, including in Cheney, Liberty Lake, Trentwood, and Deer Park.

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