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Is Lane Splitting Legal in TN?

October 20, 2020 By Kent Ryan Brown

flora templeton stuart with clientThere are some that say lane splitting provides a safety benefit to motorcycle riders and other motorists on the road. But is lane splitting legal in Tennessee?

Regardless of whether lane splitting is in fact a safe practice, what matters most is its legality. In places where lane splitting is illegal, it’s something that you should not do no matter how safe some may say it is.

If you have questions about lane splitting laws and how they impact you, contact our team today. The accident attorneys at Flora Templeton Stuart have been helping accident victims recover for over 40 years. Give us a call to discuss your case and see what we can do for you.

What Is Lane Splitting?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Motorcycle Safety Foundation, “lane splitting” refers to the passing between lanes of stopped or slower-moving vehicles on a motorcycle. Essentially, lane splitting occurs when motorcyclists ride between two lanes of traffic.

Lane splitting is sometimes referred to as “stripe-riding,” “line sharing,” or “white-lining” and is most commonly used in congested traffic areas to get between vehicles that are standing still.

Most states do not permit lane splitting. In fact, California is currently the only state in the United States that allows lane splitting.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in TN?

Many Tennessee motorists want to know, Is lane splitting legal in TN? The short answer is no.

Though it doesn’t use the term “lane splitting” in particular, Tennessee law does prohibit the practice. Specifically, Tennessee Code section 55-8-182 states that:

  • Motorcycles may use the full lane;
  • The operator of a motorcycle may not overtake and pass another vehicle in the same lane;
  • Motorcyclists may not operate their motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles; and
  • No more than 2 motorcycles may be operated abreast in a single lane.

In 2015, the Tennessee legislature introduced House Bill 1102 in an attempt to legalize lane splitting in Tennessee. However, the bill did not make it to its first reading. Thus, the fact remains that lane splitting is not legal in Tennessee.

If you sustain injuries in an auto accident on Tennessee roadways due to the actions of a motorcyclist while lane splitting, contact Flora Templeton Stuart. You may be entitled to relief, and our accident attorneys can fight to help you get the compensation you need to recover.

Common Misconceptions About Lane Splitting

is lane splitting legal in tnRiding a motorcycle can be a thrilling experience.

But it is important that you take precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of others while riding on Tennessee roads.

There are many myths and misconceptions regarding lane splitting, but knowing what is a misconception and what is true can help keep you and other motorists safe.

Myth #1: Lane Splitting Is Definitely Safer for Both Motorcycle Riders and Other Motorists

While there are some proponents who believe that lane splitting is “safe,” there’s simply not enough evidence to support this claim. In fact, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has noted that more research is necessary to “verify the benefits or hazards” of lane splitting.

Myth #2: Lane Splitting Is Acceptable in Tennessee as Long as You Do It Safely

This is absolutely not the case. No matter how safe you are while splitting lanes, the practice is still illegal on Tennessee roadways.

Myth #3: Since Lane Splitting Is Illegal in Tennessee, Motorcyclists Also Can’t Ride Side by Side

Lane splitting and riding side by side are two separate and distinct practices. In fact, Tennessee specifically allows motorcyclists to ride  “abreast,” or side by side. However, it is important to note that no more than two motorcycles may be operated side by side in a single lane on Tennessee roads.

Is Lane Splitting Safe?

Whether or not lane splitting is safe is a frequently debated topic.

Opponents of lane splitting practices claim that it is more dangerous for motorcyclists. Many argue that doing so increases the risk that a motorcyclist could be struck by a driver changing lanes or startle a driver who is not expecting a motorcycle to zoom past.

In 2016, however, the State of California legalized lane splitting, citing the reduction of traffic congestion and safety for motorcyclists.

Additionally, the American Motorcycle Association published findings to highlight the benefits of lane splitting which include:

  • A decrease in the number of rear-end collisions;
  • A decrease in the number of motorcycle accidents and traffic-related injuries;
  • Increased rider focus; and
  • Higher visibility.

Even the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has acknowledged that there is evidence that traveling between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars on multiple lane roads may slightly reduce crash frequencies when compared with staying within the lane.

Despite this and other arguments by proponents of lane splitting, many questions remain about whether lane splitting is truly safe. And all but one state still outlaws its practice.

Unless and until lane splitting becomes legal in Tennessee, ensure that you refrain from doing so if you are a motorcycle rider on Tennessee roads.

Did You Cause an Accident While Lane Splitting?

Flora Investigating A Car WreckTennessee is an at-fault state. This means that the party who caused an accident may be liable for any expenses that arose out of the accident.

Thus, if you cause an accident while lane splitting, you may be liable under Tennessee law.

Tennessee operates under a comparative negligence theory for assigning fault. This means that when two or more parties are responsible for causing an accident, each party will be assigned a percentage of the blame.

A party can be held liable only for their portion of the blame. So even if you were lane splitting at the time of an accident, that does not necessarily mean that you will be unable to recover. If the other party is over 50% to blame for the accident, you may still be entitled to recovery.

Flora Templeton Stuart and her team can help you determine your level of fault and assess whether and how much you may be able to recover.

Should I Hire a Lawyer If I Sustained Injuries in a Lane Splitting Accident?

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a lane splitting accident on Tennessee roads, you should strongly consider contacting an injury lawyer.

Doing so is not required under Tennessee laws. However, having an attorney as an advocate in your corner can make a huge difference in your case.

An experienced accident attorney can help you:

  • Determine your proportion of fault in causing the accident;
  • Assess what damages you may be entitled to recover;
  • Investigate in the aftermath of your accident to help you determine how best to prove your case;
  • Negotiate with opposing parties and insurance companies to get you the best recovery possible; and
  • Take your case to court, if that’s what it takes.

Handling an accident claim is never easy, but having an experienced lawyer can help. Let an attorney take some of the burden off your shoulders as you fight to get the recovery you deserve.

Get Answers to Your Questions

client receiving settlement checkIf you have sustained injuries in a lane splitting accident, our accident attorneys want to help.

Whether you are the motorcyclist who was lane splitting or you are a driver of another motor vehicle who was injured due to the actions of a motorcyclist, we have the knowledge and resources to take on your case.

Flora Templeton Stuart has decades of experience getting valuable compensation for injury victims in need. We have recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients, and as personal injury lawyers, we will fight to do the same for you.

Contact Flora Templeton Stuart today at 866-714-9237 for your free case evaluation to discuss your case and see how we can help you.

Author Photo

Kent Brown

Kent has years of experience negotiating, litigating, and fighting for his clients, both inside the courtroom and out. Kent brings this same determination and fights for injured clients every day with the Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers.  He is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association.