Fact Finders: Is it legal for motorcycle riders to split lanes in Missouri?
Lane splitting is driving between rows of stopped or moving vehicles.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - You may be seeing more motorcycles on the road this year. The Motorcycle Industry Council reports sales are up. And, Triple-A says gas prices are a factor. So, it’s not surprising that we have a question about motorcycles in this Fact Finders. The viewer wants to know, Is it legal for motorcycle riders to split lanes in Missouri?
California is one of a handful of states that allow this practice. The state approved the practice in 2017. Put simply, lane splitting is driving between rows of stopped or moving vehicles. Some also call it riding the zipper.
Here in Springfield, a rider slipped between two moving cars sparking the question. Missouri law on this topic is not explicit. So, there’s not a state law that says no lane splitting or no riding the zipper. But, if you do it here, you may get a ticket for careless and imprudent driving.
“If they are speeding, while they’re doing it, they’re putting themselves in a dangerous situation. That becomes careless and imprudent driving. And we can charge for that,” explained Corporal Ken Hall of the Springfield Police Department.
“We can take that careless and imprudent statute and use that because that’s going to encompass all the other things instead of writing three or four tickets for one action. Because it is more than likely if somebody is what we call running the zipper whether it’s on 65 highway or Glenstone or I-44. There are several violations just in that act,” offered Missouri State Highway Patrol, Sargeant Michael McClure.
Outside of the possibility of a ticket, the law enforcement officers we talked to consider this a dangerous practice for the motorcycle rider. And, unlike California, we don’t have anywhere near the congestion and slow-moving traffic that riders there split between.
Here’s one other thing to consider Grant Rahmeyer of Rah Law says you could be violating a state law on passing other vehicles. Basically, you’re supposed to stay in a single lane unless you’re passing another vehicle. The zipper is not a lane.
“The rules of the road require that drivers have to drive on the right unless they are passing. When they are passing, they are required to drive as nearly as practicable within a single lane and are only allowed to pass when they can do so safely. I think riding the zipper violates this statute,” explained Rahmeyer
Rahmeyer told us the relevant statute is 304.015 and requires that, “A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.” It also says, “drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right, and except when a roadway has been divided into traffic lanes, each driver shall give to the other at least one-half of the main traveled portion of the roadway whenever possible.”
That brings us back to the viewer’s question. Is it legal for motorcycle riders to split lanes in Missouri?
Since there’s nothing explicit in Missouri’s legal books that outlaw it, we’re going to say Yes -- with a HUGE caution. As you’ve read, you do run the risk of a ticket for careless and imprudent driving or speeding, you may be violating a state law on how you pass other vehicles. And, the officers do consider it a dangerous practice.
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