Jill Kolodner | August 22, 2022 | Motorcycle Accidents
Even careful and safety-minded motorcyclists can enjoy the thrill of risk every now and then. In your mind, your motorcycle may equal freedom — the freedom to take to the open road whenever you want. Traffic gridlocks and jams are something that might affect those in cars, but not you.
Unfortunately, the same traffic issues that ensnare passenger cars and trucks can impede your and other motorcyclists’ ability to ride freely. Practices like lane filtering and lane splitting may seem like legitimate ways to get around slow or stalled traffic. However, these practices are illegal and risky.
Baltimore Motorcyclists Must Obey All Traffic Laws
There are many differences in the safe operation of motorcycles, passenger cars, and commercial vehicles. That is why you need a dedicated license to drive each of them. Just as a regular driver’s license does not enable you to drive a commercial truck, it does not permit you to operate a motorcycle, either.
Despite all of the physical differences between these vehicles, motorcyclists, motorists, and commercial vehicles must all obey the same traffic laws in Maryland. But this is not universally true; other states permit motorcyclists to do things like lane splitting that other motorists are prohibited from doing.
Explanation of Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering
Lane splitting and lane filtering describe conduct that is similar and yet distinct from one another. You might be tempted to engage in one or the other to more freely navigate slow or stopped traffic.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lanes of travel that proceed in the same direction are usually separated by a dashed or solid white line. Motorists in cars and trucks must drive their vehicles wholly within a single lane of travel. The only time a motorist may touch or cross the white dividing line is to change from one lane of travel to the other.
Lane splitting occurs when you ride your motorcycle along that white dividing line, essentially splitting two lanes of travel. This enables you to pass by moving traffic. You essentially turn the white line into a separate lane of travel.
What Is Lane Filtering?
Lane filtering occurs when traffic is stopped or moving very slowly, typically at a traffic light. When this happens, some motorcyclists may feel free to “filter” toward the front of the traffic line by navigating between the stopped cars. When traffic begins moving again, the agility of your motorcycle allows you to speed off and get ahead of traffic.
Both Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering Are Illegal in Baltimore
Even though states like Utah and California have approved lane splitting, lane filtering, or both practices, Maryland has not done so. Both lane splitting and lane filtering are illegal under any circumstances.
Motorcyclists are allowed to share a single lane of traffic, traveling two abreast. However, both motorcyclists must remain within a single lane of travel while sharing the lane. Neither is permitted to ride on the white line.
Maryland Motorcycle Accidents Involving Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering
Not only are both lane splitting and lane filtering illegal, but they can also increase your risk of a motorcycle wreck. Because most drivers do not expect you to lane split or lane filter, they may not think to look for you between lanes. Motorcyclists often suffer far worse injuries in collisions than drivers or passengers in a car or truck.
The Verdict: Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering Are Illegal and Risky
Both lane splitting and lane filtering may seem like low-risk, time-saving maneuvers perfectly designed for motorcyclists. But they are not worth the cost of the ticket or the increased potential for a wreck.