Is Lane Splitting Legal in Pennsylvania?

Lane splitting is a controversial practice that is often the subject of hot debate. California was the first to legalize the practice, yet not without its share of controversy. Is lane splitting legal in Pennsylvania? Do legislators have any current plans to address it? Learn all about the practice of lane splitting and what to expect for its future in Pennsylvania.

What Is Lane Splitting?

Much like the name implies, lane splitting is a practice that motorcyclists may engage in to go between two lanes of traffic. It might seem like a recipe for disaster, and in some sense, it is: when a motorcyclist splits lanes at high speeds or when it’s unsafe to do so, it can lead to devastating accidents. On the other hand, a recent study from UC-Berkley found that lane splitting can actually be safer for motorcyclists, under the right circumstances.

What exactly are these circumstances? According to the study, conducted by the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC), motorcyclists who lane split in heavy traffic are less likely to experience rear-end accidents and the serious injuries that can accompany them.

SafeTREC’s study examined data from 6,000 motorcycle collisions, 997 of which involved the practice of lane splitting. According to their findings:

These findings seem to paint a compelling picture for the practice of lane-splitting. Currently, seven states have bills or proposals in the pipeline that might allow the practice. If these attempts prove successful, Pennsylvania could follow suit.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Pennsylvania?

Currently, only one state allows the practice of lane splitting, and that’s California. The remaining 49 states prohibit it, including Pennsylvania. However, this could change as states consider the possibility of lane splitting in light of information that it could save motorcyclists from serious injuries.

In heavy traffic, motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to injuries. Stop-and-go scenarios make drivers frustrated, and they may pay less attention to their surroundings when tensions run high. A rear-end collision in heavy traffic may be little more than a fender bender to another vehicle, but could prove devastating to a motorcyclist, leading to severe or life-threatening injuries.

Though there is currently little research on the safety or practice of lane splitting, what’s available seems to suggest that the practice may be safe at slower speeds and in line with the current speed of traffic. On the other hand, going much faster than the flow of traffic could lead to an increased risk of crash or injury.

To date, we don’t know if lane splitting will one day be legal in Pennsylvania. Lawmakers will likely wait until more research comes to light to see if it can indeed prevent injuries. Other researchers will have to replicate the findings of SafeTREC to see if lane-splitting can be a useful way to protect riders. If a wide body of research points to the efficacy and safety of the practice, more states may follow California’s lead in allowing the practice. Even if a bill does someday pass, however, expect lane-splitting to remain heavily regulated with regard to speed and traffic conditions.