Are Lane Splitting & Filtering Legal in Pennsylvania?

Are Lane Splitting & Filtering Legal in Pennsylvania?

There are many reasons to own a motorcycle — they’re fuel efficient, inexpensive, and agile. They also can take you places other vehicles can’t.

While that may sound like it means you can do anything and go anywhere with a motorcycle, there are legal limits. Like driving a car, you need to get a motorcycle license before you can operate one. You must also follow all road regulations.

In Pennsylvania, one of those regulations prevents the practices of lane splitting and filtering.

What Are Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering?

If you’ve ever driven down a multi-lane road, you’ve seen a white or yellow line separating the lanes. When this line is broken, it means you can move between the lanes.

If you’re driving a car or truck, you’re required to remain fully in your lane at all times unless you’re passing or switching lanes. But what about if you’re riding a motorcycle?

California state law allows motorcycle riders to ride along that middle lane to move between two cars in the adjacent lanes. However, there’s no corresponding law in Pennsylvania. As such, motorcycles are expected to follow the same laws cars and trucks do.

This also applies to the act of lane filtering, or driving along the middle line to pass other vehicles while they’re stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. Lane filtering is legal in California but not in Pennsylvania.

Are There Any Traffic Law Differences Between Motorcycles and Other Vehicles in PA?

For the most part, motorcycles are required to abide by the same traffic laws as larger vehicles in Pennsylvania. However, there’s one major exception: while normal vehicles can’t drive side-by-side in the same lane, two vehicles can share a lane in Pennsylvania, assuming there’s adequate space.

Is Lane Splitting and Filtering Safe?

Just because lane splitting and filtering are illegal in Pennsylvania doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unsafe.

A study of lane splitting by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley determined that lane splitting was relatively safe at slower speeds. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is just one study.

Opponents of lane splitting point out that it can be dangerous because:

  • Many roads don’t have adequate space for a motorcycle to fit between vehicles
  • Drivers may not see someone lane-splitting when switching lanes
  • Lane splitting makes it harder to deal with bad weather or road conditions
  • Motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in serious injuries or death if they occur while lane splitting

While there may be ways to mitigate some of these dangers, it can’t be proved that lane splitting is either fundamentally safe or unsafe.

The Future of PA Laws

Motorcycle enthusiasts have latched on to the UC Berkeley study to try to convince legislatures throughout the US to make the practice legal. This has been an uphill battle for many reasons, and currently, there’s no push for lane splitting to be made legal in Pennsylvania.

Given the current trends in Pennsylvania traffic laws, it doesn’t look like it will become legal anytime soon. Most major cities in PA are trying to improve pedestrian and bicycle travel rather than motorcycle travel. 

Avoid Fines — Don’t Split Lanes

The way Pennsylvania laws currently stand, you’re likely to get a ticket if you engage in lane splitting. Unless you like paying fines to the state, you’re better off avoiding this practice and petitioning your local state representative for change.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Philadelphia Today To Get Help With Your Case

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers at (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.
You can also visit our law firm at 123 S Broad St #1220, Philadelphia, PA 19109.