Montana becomes the third state to pass legislation allowing lane-splitting in certain circumstances. (Zach Courts/)
With the passage of SB 9 in Montana earlier this month, motorcyclists will be able to legally lane-split throughout the state under certain conditions starting October 1, 2021. The parameters of the law state that riders can split lanes at a speed not in excess of 20 mph to filter between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic.
The bill was sponsored by state Senator Russ Tempel (R-SD14) and Representative Barry Usher (R-HD40). Governor Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law on March 2 during a public signing ceremony in Helena.
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Currently, California, Utah, and Montana are the three states with some form of legal lane-splitting. Additional legislation is being considered in a handful of other states including Oregon, Arizona, Virginia, and Washington.
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Lane-splitting has been a tough nut to crack in the US, with numerous attempts to legalize the practice failing in different states in recent years. Research has shown that lane-splitting improves rider safety, particularly in heavy traffic situations where frequent acceleration and deceleration contribute to increased risk to riders. The now-famous Hurt Report found that over half of studied motorcycle accidents occurred in such scenarios. Lane-splitting is also a widely used practice in other countries.
If you feel strongly about legalizing lane-splitting, be sure to contact your local representatives and make your voice heard.