While lane splitting is common in many countries worldwide, the United States leaves traffic laws in the hands of each state.
This means that each state gets to decide what motorist behaviors are legal. A surprisingly low number of states allow for lane splitting.
So, Is It Legal in Oklahoma?
No, lane splitting is not legal in Oklahoma. You can be stopped and penalized for the practice.
California is the only state that expressly permits lane splitting, while some states don’t address it, leaving it to be interpreted through other statutes. However, Oklahoma specifically bans lane splitting in statute 47-11-1103. Article D states:
“No driver of a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, motorized scooter, motorized bicycle, or electric-assisted bicycle shall pass other vehicles between lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction.”
That’s pretty cut and dry. Lane splitting is illegal in Oklahoma.
Future of Lane Splitting in Oklahoma
Many motorcyclists in Oklahoma resent that lane splitting is illegal in the state. They claim that legal lane splitting would make the road safer for motorcycles and cars.
Plus, they say it would reduce pollution and help alleviate traffic. Some have organized petitions and social media groups to ask the government to change the law.
It seems that at least some public officials have listened. In February 2021, state legislators Echols and McCortney wrote and sponsored HB 2667, a bill to permit lane filtering under certain conditions in Oklahoma.
It is currently going through the legislative process but seems to have a good amount of support. It’s possible that lane splitting will become legal in Oklahoma in the near future.
Penalties for Lane Splitting in Oklahoma
If caught by an Oklahoma police officer lane splitting, you may receive a citation and ticket that can vary in amount based on local laws. On top of that, you may get points on your license, which could result in suspension or loss.
Also, since lane splitting constitutes an illegal traffic maneuver, you will likely be at fault and liable if it results in an accident.
Best case, this will drive up your insurance premiums after the insurance company must cover your liability for the accident. Worst case, your insurance policy won’t cover the extent of the damages, and you will have to pay out of your own pocket.
Arguments For and Against Lane Splitting in Oklahoma
Supported by the American Motorcyclist Association, many riders in Oklahoma argue that lane splitting is safe and a great way to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
They point to California’s legalization of lane splitting after a UC Berkeley study found that the practice was safe at speeds under 50 mph.
However, many people, including government officials, oppose lane splitting and claim it increases danger on the roadways.
They cite statistics from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office showing nearly 1,300 motorcycle accidents in 2019, resulting in 66 fatalities. They express concern that legalizing lane splitting may increase those numbers.
If many motorcycle enthusiasts and politicians in Oklahoma have their way, lane splitting may soon be legal. For now, though, it remains against the law.
If you’re an Oklahoma resident who wants lane splitting legalized, get involved with your civic discussion.