Is Lane-Splitting Legal on a Motorcycle in Missouri?

Originally published August 9, 2021. Updated July 17, 2023.

Motorcycle-riding is becoming an increasingly popular pastime in Missouri. In fact, St. Louis is regarded as a very motorcycle-friendly city, with good quality infrastructure and well-kept roads. While motorcycle friendliness in your city and good roads go a long way toward keeping motorists safe, riders should always consider how they can contribute to public safety, as well as their own.

For example, the lane-splitting maneuver is NOT illegal in Missouri. It is, however, considered extremely unsafe. Just because you technically CAN lane-split, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

What Is LANE-SPLITTING, Exactly?

Lane-splitting is where motorcycle riders drive between two lanes of traffic that are facing the same direction. They drive along the dividing line to get around other road users. It is commonly practiced in traffic or when cars are stopped at traffic lights. Although lane-splitting isn’t illegal here in Missouri, it’s a practice motorcyclists should avoid… for both safety reasons and for legal reasons.


When it comes to accidents resulting from lane-splitting, it’s important to consider comparative fault laws in Missouri. These laws help to determine negligence in an accident.

For example, if a motorcyclist is distracted and runs a red light, resulting in the injury of another driver or pedestrian, they are negligent and therefore liable for any injuries caused. Motorists (including car and motorcycle drivers) have a duty to one another to abide by the rules of the road. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for any harm their actions caused. In most road injury lawsuits, negligence is the primary focus. This is particularly true with motorcycle cases, as drivers of other vehicles often forget to check their blind spots for bikers, leading to accidents. To determine negligence in an injury case, the defendant’s action or inaction is compared to a reasonable person’s standard.

Back in 1983, Missouri adopted the legal doctrine of comparative negligence. This means that a plaintiff who is in some way responsible for their own injuries may only collect compensation in proportion to the degree of fault of the defendant. Therefore, if a motorcyclist contributes to an accident in which they’re injured, they are only entitled to compensation for the injuries caused by the other driver.

How To Determine NEGLIGENCE

Although many variables are involved in a motorcycle injury case, the factors used to determine negligence are relatively standard. The determination process involves five key considerations:

  • The defendant had a duty to act or refrain from acting based on the rules of the road.
  • The defendant then breached this duty.
  • This duty breach caused injury to the plaintiff.
  • The defendant is aware that their action or inaction may have caused injuries.
  • The plaintiff suffered genuine injury or incurred damages resulting from the accident (e.g., loss of income, hospital bills, etc.)

Again, because lane-splitting isn’t strictly illegal in Missouri, you may still file an injury claim or lawsuit if you’re injured while lane-splitting. However, since lane-splitting is regarded as unsafe, it may be challenging to make a successful claim without legal help from experienced Missouri motorcycle accident attorneys. Due to comparative fault laws, the opposing party may establish a defense claiming you’re at least partially at fault, which can reduce the amount of compensation you recover.

Challenges Posed By Unfair Biases Against Motorcyclists

It’s also critical to consider that there is often an unfair bias against motorcyclists in accident cases, making it even more challenging to recover compensation. These biases stem from preconceived notions about motorcycles and the people who ride them.

They include:

  • The idea that motorcycles are difficult to see
  • Motorcyclists drive too quickly.
  • Bikers are frequently reckless.

This can mean an injured motorcyclist must fight against false assumptions when seeking compensation, in addition to proving fault.

If you can prove another driver was entirely or mostly at fault during a lane-splitting accident, you may be able to recover significant compensation. For example, if the driver of the other vehicle was using their phone, acted recklessly, or violated other traffic laws, they may be deemed negligent.

CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED Missouri Motorcycle Lawyers

Since lane-splitting on a motorcycle is considered dangerous, it can be challenging to recover compensation from an accident that results from this practice, especially since motorcyclists already face unfair bias in vehicle accident cases. That’s why it’s important that you get a skilled motorcycle lawyer from Cofman Townsley to help you gain the maximum compensation for your injuries. 

If you’ve suffered due to an accident while lane-splitting, ensure you take appropriate legal action immediately. For more information on your legal rights or to schedule your free consultation, contact our law firm.