Is Lane Splitting Legal in New Mexico?

A man on a motorcycle is lane splitting while there is traffic

There are reasons for every rule of the road. When someone fails to abide by a roadway rule, accidents often occur. One important rule in New Mexico is to remain in a single lane while driving unless you are passing (or overtaking) another vehicle. Under this rule, the motorcycle maneuver known as “lane splitting” is considered illegal. 

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting occurs when a motorcycle rides on the line in the middle of two lanes of traffic that are moving in the same direction. It often occurs when traffic is stopped as a means for motorcyclists to keep moving. However, it doesn’t matter if the vehicles on either side of the line are stopped or moving. It’s important to note that lane splitting is different than lane sharing. Lane sharing occurs when two motorcyclists ride next to one another within the same lane. 

Is Lane Splitting Safe?

While California became the first state to legalize lane splitting, the majority of states still find it to be an unsafe practice and refuse to allow it. Those who advocate for it believe that it is safer for motorcyclists in that it protects them from rear-end collisions since they are not in front of cars but in between them. However, those who oppose lane splitting believe that it actually increases the risk of accidents due to lane-changing incidents. 

What Is New Mexico’s Lane Splitting Law?

Currently, lane splitting remains illegal in New Mexico. Under state law, no motorcycle may overtake or pass another vehicle in the same lane. Additionally, motorcyclists may not drive between lanes of traffic moving or stopped in the same direction. In other words, motorcyclists must remain in their lane unless they are safely passing another vehicle for which they must signal. 

One exception to New Mexico’s lane splitting law is for police who are on motorcycles and must ride between lanes of traffic in order to perform job-related responsibilities. Aside from this one exception, those who attempt to lane split and are caught will receive a traffic ticket for a moving violation and must pay a fine. Additionally, if the motorcyclist who lane splits causes an accident, he or she may face civil liability for damages related to the accident caused by his or her negligence. The motorcyclist’s insurance may also be on the hook. 

Understanding Pure Comparative Negligence in New Mexico’s Personal Injury Claims

New Mexico is considered a “pure comparative negligence” state, which means that more than one party can be found at fault for a single accident. However, the injured motorist will have his or her compensation reduced by their percentage at fault. 

For instance, if a motorcyclist’s lane splits and is hit by a truck whose driver was texting, the damages that the motorcyclist receives would be reduced by the fact that he was lane splitting. So if he was entitled to $100,000 but the court found him to be 45% to blame for the accident, he would only be entitled to $55,000 ($100,000 reduced by 45% is $55,000).

MPJ Law Firm Can Help Those in NM Who Have Been Injured in a Lane Splitting Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a lane splitting accident, it can be devastating. When you are already dealing with so much, the last thing on your mind is dealing with the legalities of the situation. 

At MPJ Law Firm, we will always act in your best interest and work to help you receive the compensation that you deserve. Even though it can’t make up for what has happened, it can help you to move forward with your life. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Motorcycle Accident