Is Lane Splitting Legal in Indiana?

September 15, 2021 | Car Accidents

Lane splitting is a term used to describe motorcyclists riding down the centerline of two lanes of traffic going in the same direction. Currently, lane splitting is only legal in the state of California. This is not a legal driving action in Indiana. Here, we want to discuss lane splitting. In particular, we want to look at whether or not there are any benefits to lane splitting and whether there have been any efforts to legalize this practice in this state.

What is Lane Splitting?

You have probably seen lane splitting before. This occurs when a motorcyclist travels down the center dotted line between two lanes of traffic that are going in the same direction. Typically, lane splitting occurs when traffic is moving relatively slowly, is congested, or is at a complete standstill. Motorcyclists usually practice lane splitting so that they can get out of the traffic congestion.

Is Lane Splitting Okay in Indiana?

When we look at Indiana law (Ind. Code § 9-21-10-6), we can see that the wording makes it clear that lane splitting is illegal. The law specifically says that “a vehicle may not be driven or operated in a manner that deprives another vehicle of the full use of a traffic lane.”

Lane splitting essentially encroaches on the space of other drivers, and it will deny multiple vehicles of their ability to use the “full” lane. 

Currently, lane splitting is only legal in the state of California, though other states have debated the merits of legalizing the practice. 

Is Lane Splitting Safe?

The state of Indiana has deemed that lane splitting is not safe. If they felt differently, then the legislature would pass a law allowing lane splitting for motorcyclists. There have been studies conducted that have shown lane splitting can be done safely and reduce the chances that a motorcyclist will be rear-ended in stop-and-go traffic.

However, because lane splitting is illegal in Indiana, it should not be done, and it will be unsafe. Drivers in California expect lane splitting to occur. Drivers in Indiana have no such expectations. There are several risks involved for motorcyclists and other drivers on the roadway when lane splitting occurs. Some of the dangers that motorcyclists face if they choose to participate in lane splitting include the following:

  • Car doors opening into their pathways
  • Vehicles unexpectedly changing lanes
  • Vehicles turning unexpectedly
  • Hands or objects coming out of vehicle windows
  • Drivers getting mad and purposely causing problems for the motorcyclist

If a collision involving a lane splitting motorcyclist and another vehicle occurs, this can lead to severe injuries for those involved. This is particularly true for a motorcyclist who does not have the same type of protection as those inside a vehicle. It is not uncommon for lane splitting to result in injuries such as broken and dislocated bones, road rash, severe lacerations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and more.

Will Lane Splitting Ever be Legal in Indiana?

As of this writing, there are no serious talks about legalizing lane splitting in Indiana. There have been no bills introduced in the Indiana legislature, and there are no news reports of any officials discussing allowing lane splitting to occur.