At Full Throttle Law, we believe that the Nevada Legislature should amend Nevada statutes to permit reasonable forms of lane splitting. When done properly, lane splitting/filtering is reasonably safe and can decrease other dangers on the road. It is a tool that reasonable riders can use to decrease traffic congestion and to avoid dangers like heat exhaustion and being rear-ended when traffic stops. Common sense lane splitting or filtering laws just make sense.
What’s Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering?
Lane splitting is when a motorcycle passes another vehicle in the same lane. Often that means the motorcyclist is riding the line between lanes or is a little to one side. California law defines it as “driving a motorcycle … between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane”.
Lane filtering is lane splitting at slower speeds. Utah law defines lane filtering as “operating a motorcycle other than an autocycle, the act of overtaking and passing another vehicle that is stopped in the same direction of travel in the same lane.” Other states expand the definition to slow traffic, generally under 25 mph.
Is Lane Splitting/Filtering Legal?
Lane splitting and lane filtering are not legal in Nevada. Because they not legal, we do not promote engaging in lane splitting or filtering in Nevada. Instead, we promote changing the law to make it legal. Lane splitting is fully legal in California. Lane filtering is legal in Utah and a few other states. There is momentum in legalizing lane splitting/filtering because the safety benefits of lane splitting/filtering outweigh the safety concerns.
Is Lane Splitting/Filtering Safe?
Yes, when done properly. It also decreases and eliminates other types of risks. From a legalization perspective, there is net public benefit to allowing either lane splitting or filtering.
Like most maneuvers, lane splitting/filtering is safe depending on how and when it is done. Left-hand turns are safe except when they aren’t. Passing another vehicle is safe except when it isn’t. Parking a car can be unsafe depending on the circumstances. A motorcycle passing another vehicle at passing speeds in the same lane when there is sufficient space is reasonably safe. On the other hand, barreling down a long tight row of stopped cars at 100 mph is not safe. Like all aspects of operating a motorcycle, lane splitting requires common sense.
California has published guidelines to help promote lane splitting safety that we generally agree with. The rider should consider traffic conditions and use judgment to determine when lane splitting is safe. Lane splitting is often safer when traffic is going slower. Riding the in same lane as a large vehicle, like a bus, carries increased risk. Large speed differentials between the motorcycle and other vehicles affects safety.
It takes the rider’s judgment to decide when lane splitting/filtering is safe. It takes a basic level of skill to execute safe lane splitting/filtering. But judgment and skill are things we expect of all riders and drivers. So yes. Lane splitting and lane filtering is safe when executed correctly.
We Should Legalize Lane Splitting or Filtering Because It Will Save Lives and Decrease Traffic.
Nevada should legalize lane splitting, or its more regulated cousin, lane filtering, because it will save lives and decrease traffic. Any time a state changes a law, the legislature should ask whether the change is better that the status quo. In this case, change makes sense because reasonable lane splitting and filtering is safer than prohibiting it.
To start out, no one is suggesting legalizing unsafe behavior. Changing the law is focused on the vast majority of riders who already follow the law. Those motorcyclists who engage in unsafe riding behavior won’t change their habits simply because lane splitting becomes legal. Changing the law is about making it safer for the majority of motorcyclists.
Getting rear ended is a major cause of rider injuries.
Rear-end accidents in stop-and-go traffic is a major reason why motorcyclists support lane splitting/filtering. Too many people have been injured because the car behind them wasn’t paying attention in stop-and-go traffic. And while a fender bender is usually minor for a car, it can be very serious for the motorcyclist.
“The Hurt Report,” which is the most comprehensive study on motorcycle crashes, found that “heavy traffic” was involved in the majority of motorcycle injuries. Why is that? We riders know the answer. People start moving around in their big cars without looking. Most importantly, they often run into the back of motorcycles causing back and torso injuries in the process.
The University of California at Berkeley published a report that concludes that Motorcyclists are less likely to get hit from behind when they split lanes in heavy traffic, are less likely to get serious head or torso injuries and are less likely to die in a crash.
For people who have never been on a motorcycle, this is probably a shock, but the reason motorcycles keep moving is to keep them safer.
Lane filtering beats the heat
On hot weather days, the air temperature can get into triple digits. But what is the temperature when you’re exposed to the sun, stopped on black asphalt, and surrounded by hundreds of blazing hot car exhausts?
We took a thermometer out and checked. On a 108 degree day in Las Vegas, the temperature at the road surface was a blistering 158 degrees. That’s a well-done steak. The only cooling method that riders have is to keep moving. Air flow, combined with proper riding gear, works to cool the rider and avoid dangerous heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Take away a motorcycle riders’ movement and you put their health and safety at risk.
We see heat stroke resulting in too many wrecks. Lane splitting/filtering helps protect motorcyclists from heat-related crashes and injuries.
Lane splitting/filtering decreases traffic congestion
Not only is reasonable lane splitting/filtering safer for riders, but it also decreases traffic congestion for everyone.
Full Throttle Law Advocates for Common-Sense Lane Splitting Laws to Keep Riders Safe.
It is Full Throttle Law’s position that Nevada law should be changed to allow sensible and reasonable forms of lane splitting. We support legislative action groups in their efforts to change the law. We believe in riders and their ability to safely and prudently use their vehicles for the benefit of all.