What is lane splitting?

There is no doubt that one of the most vulnerable groups on Pennsylvania roadways is motorcycles. They are at a disadvantage in many ways. Mostly, though, it is due to their size. A small vehicle like this can be easily overlooked or not seen in different traffic scenarios.

Many motorists object to certain practices motorcyclists use to try to stay safe on the road. One of them is lane splitting. This practice is often seen as being dangerous and unnecessary. However, the American Motorcyclist Association has a different take on things and explains that lane splitting may be beneficial to everyone on the road.

Lane splitting defined

Before getting into the arguments over lane splitting, it helps to know exactly what it is. This practice involves motorcycles moving between vehicles to get to the front of the line of traffic. The motorcycle may be moving in and out of lanes, sharing lanes with other vehicles and even using the shoulder or other marked off areas of the roadway. The practice is most often used in traffic jams and congested situations.

The argument for lane splitting

Lane splitting is supported by many motorcycle groups because it is seen as a protective measure. When a motorcycle is stuck in traffic, it is at a higher risk for being rear ended or otherwise crashed into, which almost always results in serious injury to the motorcyclist. By moving to the front of the traffic, the motorcycle is able to stay visible and stay safe. This practice is regularly used in Europe. Drivers expect it to happen and watch out accordingly.

There have been studies done that show when lane splitting is used it can reduce the chances of a motorcycle being involved in an accident, especially in congested traffic situations. This is largely because it reduces the contact between motorcycles and other vehicles by moving them ahead of the other vehicles into the open area in front of traffic. It is well-known that the less contact a motorcycle has with their vehicles, the less chance of motorcycle accidents. Many states have worked on legislation to permit lane splitting, but it is only legal in California.

Pennsylvania's stance

Pennsylvania does not permit lane splitting. In fact, the law has specific language banning this practice. Under the law, a motorcycle cannot share a lane with another vehicle. It cannot pass another vehicle within the same lane either. The law also states a motorcycle cannot be used to navigate between lanes of traffic.

While lane splitting is highly controversial with most states taking a stance that it is not a permitted practice, there is some evidence that it could increase safety for motorcycles. For now, though, it is not an option, so cyclists and motorists need to remain vigilant on the roadways. If you have concerns about motorcycle safety or want to learn more about the legal aspects of operating a motorcycle on Pennsylvania roadways, you may consider contacting Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C.

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