Is Lane-Splitting Legal in North Carolina?

February 1, 2021 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
Is Lane-Splitting Legal in North Carolina?

North Carolina’s roadways are home to thousands of motorcycles. However fun these motorcycles are to ride, they can also be dangerous — and certain behaviors are regulated by the government. Some of our clients have asked us, “Is lane splitting legal in North Carolina?”

In this article, we’ll share what motorcycle riders and other motorists need to know about lane-splitting in NC, and what to do if you’re involved in an accident.

What is Lane Splitting?

Lane-splitting refers to a situation in which a motorcyclist rides between two other vehicles going the same direction. Other terms for lane-splitting include “white-lining,” “stripe-riding,” or “filtering.”

Lane-splitting is most often used by motorcyclists in situations where traffic is significantly congested or slowed, such as in a backup due to rush hour, road construction or an accident. The practice is also common in larger cities, where stop-and-go traffic can make sudden braking dangerous for motorcycles.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in North Carolina - Riddle & Brantley Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

Lane-splitting is a controversial topic among motorcycle riders, safety advocates, and the public. Unfortunately, the law in NC is not crystal clear about lane splitting.

Riddle & Brantley attorney Patrick White has reviewed the statutes, however, and has determined that lane-splitting is most likely illegal in North Carolina.

According to White’s legal analysis:

  • All vehicles are entitled to full use of the lane and are required to stay in their lane unless passing (GS 20-146)
  • This law fully applies to motorcycles, except in the limited situation involving "lane-sharing" (see below)
  • Because a motorcycle cannot encroach on another vehicle’s use of the lane, it cannot “lane-split” without violating the law

There is some confusion within state government itself, however. The NC Department of Transportation’s Motorcycle Handbook implies that lane-splitting is allowed by merely discouraging the practice without identifying it as explicitly illegal.

Lane-Splitting vs. Lane-Sharing

It’s important to note that lane splitting is NOT the same as lane-sharing, which refers to a situation in which two or more motorcycles ride side by side in the same lane. Lane-sharing is legal in NC under GS § 20-146.1.

Controversy Over Lane-Splitting

Is Lane Splitting Safe - Riddle & Brantley Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

Lane splitting is very controversial. Despite being illegal in many jurisdictions (including, it seems, North Carolina), many motorcyclists maintain that the risk of riding a motorcycle between vehicles is less the risk of being hit in stop-and-go traffic.

This belief is supported by reputable organizations such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In California, the state government even changed its law to allow lane-splitting based on evidence that it may reduce risk.

In NC, a 2017 online petition directed at Lt. Gov. Dan Forest asked for support to change the law on lane-splitting in North Carolina, however the effort ultimately went nowhere.

What Do YOU Think?

Should lane-splitting be legal or illegal in North Carolina? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!

Have You Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident (involving lane-splitting or otherwise), you may deserve compensation and our NC motorcycle accident lawyers would love to help.

For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced NC personal injury lawyer handling motorcycle accident cases, please call 1-800-525-7111.

You can also complete the fast and easy form below if you prefer. There is no in-person meeting required in order to get started on your case, although we are happy to meet in one of our convenient offices or come directly to you if you prefer.

There is no obligation and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we win your case and you receive compensation.

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your case.

“They made a hard time in my life easier to endure.”

-Melissa C., Riddle & Brantley client

We serve motorcycle accident victims across NC, including in:

  • Raleigh
  • Durham
  • Greensboro
  • Charlotte
  • Fayetteville
  • Winston-Salem
  • Goldsboro
  • Greenville
  • Jacksonville
  • Kinston
  • New Bern
  • Wilmington

Our Results

Since 1985, our motorcycle accident lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in compensation (see disclaimer below) for victims of injury due to others’ negligence.

Recent wins include:

  • $1,000,000 — Our client was thrown from a motorcycle when the driver allegedly lost control in an S-curve. The motorcycle rolled over several times and our client, the passenger, suffered serious injuries including multiple fractures and traumatic brain injury. Prior to filing a lawsuit, we settled the claim for the limits of the policy.
  • $1,000,000 — Our client was riding his motorcycle on a service road in Goldsboro when the defendant turned in front of him without warning. Our client was thrown 15 feet from his motorcycle and the other driver was criminally charged. We filed a civil claim and ultimately secured $1 million in compensation for the victim, representing the policy limits.
  • $300,000 — Riddle & Brantley represented our client who was seriously injured when his motorcycle was t-boned by a pickup truck while turning onto a busy highway. We recovered the limits of the insurance policy in the case and were pleased to have helped our client get the justice he deserved.

*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.

“Riddle & Brantley found me all the available money from the insurance companies.”

-David Howard, Riddle & Brantley client

For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced NC motorcycle accident lawyer, please call 1-800-525-7111. 

There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless you do. It’s as simple as that.

Call 1-800-525-7111 and let’s talk.

Justice Counts.