Is Motorcycle Lane-Splitting Legal in North Carolina?

picture of a car's left side rear view mirror which shows a motorcycle following from behind the driver

Motorcycle riders in some states can legally lane-split or lane-filter to navigate through stopped or slowed traffic. But is this practice legal for motorcyclists in North Carolina? Understanding the definitions of lane-splitting and lane-filtering, as well as the legality of these techniques in NC, can help motorcyclists know what steps to take if these practices are related to a motorcycle crash in which they were injured.

What Is Motorcycle Lane-Splitting?

The term “lane-splitting” refers to the act of a motorcyclist riding in between lanes of slowed or stopped traffic. Also known as “white-lining” or “stripe-riding,” lane-splitting allows riders to bypass jammed traffic and reach their destinations more quickly.

Is Lane-Splitting Legal in North Carolina?

No, motorcycle lane-splitting is illegal in North Carolina. Under NC law, all vehicles must stay within a single lane on multi-lane roads. Lane-splitting violates this requirement, and motorcyclists who practice it may receive traffic citations. Riders also face reckless driving charges if police deem their lane-splitting dangerous.

What Is Lane-Filtering and Is It Legal in North Carolina?

Lane-filtering is slightly different from lane-splitting. With lane-filtering, a motorcycle rider moves between or around lanes of vehicles that are idling at a red light or stop sign. This practice allows bikers to reach the front of a line of stopped traffic so they can pull away before the rest of the vehicles. However, lane-filtering is also illegal in North Carolina. Motorcycles do not have special privileges to pass lined-up traffic on the right or on the shoulder.

How Does Lane-Splitting or Lane-Filtering Affect Crash Liability?

By definition, lane-splitting and lane-filtering require operating outside of a single lane when not allowed by law. Riders who illegally practice these techniques can be found at fault if they’re involved in a crash. Violating traffic laws is negligence per se and makes the motorcyclist responsible for accident-related injuries and damages.

North Carolina operates on the principle of contributory negligence, meaning that even if a party is just 1 percent responsible for an accident, they are ineligible to receive compensation for their losses. As such, the insurance company can use evidence that you were lane-splitting during a crash to bar you from receiving any recovery.

However, liability hinges on the unique details of each collision, and an investigation will look at the actions of each party involved. Another motorist may bear responsibility if they made an illegal lane change, opened a door into traffic, or committed another negligent driving maneuver that forced you into a lane-splitting situation. Consulting with a seasoned motorcycle accident lawyer can give you a clearer idea about your potential to receive compensation.

Talk to Our Experienced North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Today

Have you suffered injuries in a North Carolina motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver? The dedicated personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, are here to help. For over 40 years, we have fought aggressively to recover the maximum compensation motorcycle crash victims deserve.

Contact us today for a free case review to learn more about how we can help you.