Is it Legal to Lane Split on a Motorcycle in MA?

Driving a motorcycle between cars sitting idle or moving slowly in multiple lanes on a roadway is called lane splitting. While it allows motorcyclists to move through congested traffic faster, many have argued it is a dangerous practice.

Lawmakers have considered many bills to revise the law on lane splitting. However, splitting lanes in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is currently not legal. Individuals on both sides of the debate on lane splitting have argued whether this practice impacts the rate of Massachusetts motorcycle accidents.

Massachusetts Laws on Lane Splitting

According to Massachusetts general law, vehicle operators must ride in a single lane on any roadway consisting of two or more lanes. Additionally, it also addresses operating a motorcycle specifically, stating:

  • No more than two motorcyclists may ride side by side in a lane
  • Bikers are to pass other vehicles in single-file
  • Motorcycles may pass other cyclists in the same lane but cannot pass other motor vehicles within the same lane

While lane splitting would allow motorcyclists to avoid slow-moving traffic, it also makes it less challenging to keep a motorcycle balanced when continuing to move. Stopping and starting in heavy traffic is simpler for motorists on four wheels. In comparison, motorcyclists must change gears and place their feet on and off the pegs and ground to keep a motorcycle upright.

Dangers of Lane Splitting in Massachusetts

Numerous studies about the safety of lane splitting have been performed. One often cited study argues its safety, though optimal speeds and conditions must exist to prevent accidents. Motorcyclists in the Bay State may face the challenges of narrower roads and more inclement weather than motorcyclists in areas where lane splitting is legal. Motorcyclists in Boston also face these dangers.

No Contact Accidents

Motorcyclists in Massachusetts must make instantaneous decisions when responding to other drivers around them. Another driver’s actions may quickly result in a motorcyclist losing control by taking actions to avoid collision. No contact accidents are the result of one driver’s reaction to avoid another driver’s actions. Learn more about no-contact motorcycle accidents in Massachusetts.


All motorists are struggling to move forward in congested traffic. Changing lanes to access an exit, business, or parking area requires a certain amount of grace from other drivers and the ability of a driver to move into another lane quickly. It is far too simple to miss seeing a motorcycle approaching from the rear and on the side, even when checking for rear-approaching traffic.

A car merging into another lane or involved in turning actions becomes a tremendous barrier in the path of a motorcycle, resulting in sideswipe accidents. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (Pg.18), vehicles turning in front of motorcycles presented the most significant crash scenarios or configurations in motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists falling in the roadway to prevent a collision with another vehicle posed the second highest danger.

Guard Against Motorcycle Accidents in Massachusetts

Even practicing the highest level of caution and avoiding illegal maneuvers such as lane splitting may not be enough to protect motorcyclists from the negligent actions of others. Injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident in Boston can be life-threatening and costly. Learn more about guarding against motorcycle accidents in Massachusetts and what you can do to recover successfully.