While lane splitting is common in many countries worldwide, the United States leaves traffic laws in the hands of each state.
This means that each state gets to decide what motorist behaviors are legal or not. A surprisingly low number of states allow for lane splitting.
So, Is It Legal in Ohio?
No, lane splitting is not legal in Ohio. You can be stopped and penalized for the practice.
Lane splitting is effectively illegal in Ohio because it violates other rules of the road. Law enforcement often stops lane-splitting motorcyclists for:
- Improper lane changing
- Failure to maintain a lane
- Reckless driving
Because lane splitting has historically fallen under these other traffic violations, it is, for all intents and purposes, illegal in Ohio.
What About Lane Sharing?
Unlike lane splitting, Ohio law does specifically address lane sharing. And it’s legal.
Ohio Revised Code 4511.55(b) states:
Persons riding bicycles or motorcycles upon a roadway shall ride not more than two abreast in a single lane, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or motorcycles.
In other words, a maximum of two motorcyclists can share the same lane and ride side by side.
Future of Lane Splitting in Ohio
Ohio has a number of large cities including Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus. It’s dense and urbanized. As a result, many avid motorcyclists have suggested legalizing lane splitting as a means to alleviate traffic and reduce pollution. Some have even started petitions.
Despite pressure from motorcyclists around Ohio and even the American Motorcyclist Association, no bills have been proposed in the Ohio legislature. It doesn’t seem like Ohio will legalize lane splitting in the near future if at all.
Penalties for Lane Splitting in Ohio
If you’re caught by an Ohio police officer lane splitting, you may receive a citation and ticket that can vary in amount based on local laws.
On top of that, you’ll likely lose points off your license which could result in further penalties including losing your license.
Additionally, since lane-splitting constitutes an illegal traffic maneuver, you will likely be at fault and therefore liable if it results in an accident.
Best case, this will drive up your insurance premiums after the insurance company must cover your liability for the accident.
Worst case, your insurance policy won’t cover the extent of the damages, and you will have to pay out of your own pocket.
Arguments For and Against Lane Splitting in Ohio
Supported by the American Motorcyclist Association, many riders in Ohio argue that lane splitting is both safe and a great way to reduce traffic congestion and pollution. They point to California’s legalization of lane splitting after a UC Berkeley study found that the practice was safe at speeds under 50 mph.
However, there are many people, including government officials, who oppose lane splitting and claim it increases danger on the roadways. They cite the Ohio State Patrol’s Traffic Safety Bulletin, which showed that there were almost 4,000 motorcycle accidents in 2020 resulting in 205 deaths, and argue that legalizing lane splitting would increase these numbers.
Regardless of your opinion on lane splitting legalization, it’s important to understand your local laws and the penalties you could face for breaking them.
It doesn’t seem like lane splitting will be legal in Ohio anytime soon, so it’s best to avoid the practice to stay safe and avoid fines and liability in the case of an accident.