On a recent trip to Colombia, I rented a motorcycle to explore the coffee region. It took a little while for me to get used to the sheer volume of lane splitting, with multiple motorcycles weaving in between cars and filtering toward the front of the line.
I rarely saw people lane splitting back in Arkansas and never did it myself.
That got me thinking, is lane splitting legal in the United States? It turns out each state has its own laws, very few of which allow it.
So, Is It Legal in Arkansas?
Technically, Arkansas is one of the few states where lane splitting is legal. However, the situation is a bit more complicated than in other jurisdictions.
Specifically, lane splitting is de facto legal in Arkansas rather than de jure. This means that the Arkansas state code simply doesn’t mention lane splitting at all. Since it doesn’t explicitly forbid it, you can do it.
On the other hand, it’s not explicitly permitted either, which puts it in a kind of gray area.
Law enforcement officers may sometimes use their own judgment to determine if a motorcyclist’s lane splitting has violated any other statutes such as those against reckless driving.
Generally, they do not stop or cite motorcyclists who lane split safely.
Is Lane Splitting Common in Arkansas?
Despite being de facto legal, lane splitting is not common in Arkansas, which is probably why the state code doesn’t explicitly address it.
Arkansas is a very rural state with the largest city Little Rock having fewer than 200,000 inhabitants. It has a population density of just 57.9 people per square mile, 34th in the country.
There are fewer situations where motorcyclists can benefit from lane splitting. Traffic is less congested, and drivers stay farther apart.
The result is that while lane splitting is legal, most drivers and motorcyclists are not used to it and may not expect it. This makes lane splitting in Arkansas more dangerous.
Is Lane Splitting Safe in Arkansas?
Arkansas authorities and law enforcement recommend against lane splitting. Even though it’s legal, it’s not a common practice, and drivers are not used to sharing lanes with motorcyclists. This could lead to a severe accident.
If you do lane split in Arkansas, you should do it safely. Since the Arkansas government does not address the practice of lane splitting at all, there are few guidelines.
Nevertheless, most experts recommend following the guidelines issued by the State of California, where lane splitting is explicitly legal:
- Consider your surroundings.
- It is safer to lane split at lower speeds.
- Lane split in the far left lanes.
- Do not lane split next to large vehicles like semi-trucks or buses.
- Do not ride on the shoulder.
- Avoid drivers’ blind spots.
- Make yourself as visible as possible by wearing reflective clothing and using headlights even during the day time.
Since it’s technically de facto legal in Arkansas, lane splitting can be a great way to save time and ride with more fluidity and safety.
However, because lane splitting is not a common practice in the state, it can also be dangerous due to a lack of awareness.
When lane splitting in Arkansas, the most crucial consideration is riding defensively and making sure you’re seen.