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Is lane-splitting allowed in Washington?

Part of the thrill that comes with riding your motorcycle in and around Seattle is the freedom that it provides. Traditional vehicles can often seem to restricting given the limitations that their size imposes. You, on the other hand, have the freedom to negotiate traffic in in a much easier manner. Yet exactly how far does that freedom extend? the topic of lane-splitting is often a controversial one. While the distance separating two vehicles traveling in adjacent lanes may offer you ample room to pass between them, what does the law say about it? 

Section 46.61.608(3) of the Revised Code of Washington clearly states that lane-splitting is in fact illegal. Indeed, the statutes goes on to say that you cannot overtake a vehicle that is traveling in your same lane. A common complaint heard from motorists involved in motorcycle accidents is that they could not the approaching motorcyclist before they struck them. Given the already limited perception that many motorists admit to having of motorcyclists traveling on the roads alongside them, attempting to lane-split can be seen as potentially adding more danger to an already risky situation. 

The restrictions keeping you from lane-splitting do not, however, further limit your right to the use of your lane of traffic. All motorists must treat your vehicle as though is like any other (and not attempt to go around you while traveling in the same lane. You are allowed, however, to pass a bicyclist while on your motorcycle that is traveling in the same lane provided that you maintain a distance of at least three feet between the two of you. 

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