Colorado’s Lane-Splitting Laws

Posted On March 17 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Lane splitting is the practice of operating a motorcycle in between two rows of slower-moving or stopped traffic. When you see motorcyclists practice lane splitting, this means they are traveling down the center line and between the two lanes of vehicles moving in the same direction.

Lane splitting is a fairly controversial practice that is illegal in most places around the country, including here in Colorado. However, this practice is actually legal in some places throughout the US. Here, we want to review lane splitting, discuss whether or not this is a safe practice, and talk about how much trouble you could be in if you practice lane splitting in Colorado.

The Shifting Legality of Lane Splitting

Though illegal in Colorado, lane splitting has been up for discussion in many states across the country and is even legal in some places. California was the first state in the country to legalize lane splitting, which is not surprising since the most comprehensive study on lane splitting safety came out of UC Berkeley.

The study suggests motorcycle lane-splitting is relatively safe when done in traffic moving at 50 mph or less and with speed not exceeding surrounding vehicles by more than 15 mph. It highlights that the speed difference between motorcycles and other traffic is a significant predictor of injury risk, suggesting legislation might enhance awareness among motorists.

This study supports the idea that, under controlled conditions, lane-splitting could be considered for legalization, offering insights into safe practices that could inform laws regulating motorcycle lane-splitting.

Consequences for Lane Splitting

The government in Colorado is clear about its stance on lane splitting. No lane sharing or lane splitting with other vehicles is allowed. The closest motorcyclists can come in Colorado to anything like lane splitting is sharing a lane with another motorcyclist, or co-riding, but this only refers to motorcyclists riding side by side in the same lane.

Individuals who practice lane splitting could face serious consequences if stopped by law enforcement officials. Under Colorado CRS § 42-4-1401 CRS, we see that reckless driving is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. Those convicted could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.00. Additionally, individuals charged and convicted of reckless driving could lose up to 8 points on their driving record.

Is Lane Filtering the Same Thing?

Lane filtering allows motorcycles to move between stopped or slow-moving vehicles, typically at traffic lights or congested areas, to reach the front of the lane of traffic. It differs from lane splitting, where motorcycles navigate between lanes of moving traffic. Lane filtering is considered safer at lower speeds and in specific conditions, whereas lane splitting is performed in flowing traffic. In the US, lane filtering legality varies by state, but is currently only legal in Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, and Utah.

Understanding Colorado Motorcycle Laws

Whether you are a veteran motorcycle rider in Colorado or are relatively new to the motorcycle riding scene, we encourage you to research motorcycle laws in the state, even if just for a refresher. Safety is key, and not just your safety. By following motorcycle laws, you are not only increasing the chances that you return home injury-free but that others around you on the roadway are also safe.  If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, as a motorcyclist, you it may be in your best interests to speak with a motorcycle accident attorney.