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 Pennsylvania?
No, lane splitting is not legal in Pennsylvania. You can be stopped and penalized for the practice.
While a few states like California expressly allow lane splitting, many states simply do not address the specific practice at all, requiring the interpretation of other parts of the code to determine its legality.
In the case of Pennsylvania, though, the State Statutes specifically forbid lane splitting. This can be found in Title 75, Chapter 35, Subchapter B. Section 3523, articles b and c state:
(b) Overtaking and passing.—The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
(c) Operation between lanes or vehicles.—No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
Lane splitting would necessarily violate these statutes.
What About Lane Sharing?
Unlike many states that ban lane splitting, Pennsylvania does actually allow lane sharing. This is when two motorcycles ride side by side in a single lane. This is clarified by article d of the same law as above:
(d) Limitation on operating abreast.—Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.
As you can see, the maximum number of motorcycles that can share a lane is two.
Future of Lane Splitting in Pennsylvania
While avid motorcyclists in Pennsylvania often complain about the lane splitting laws, there is little organized movement to change them.
No bills have been proposed, and it doesn’t look like the Pennsylvania legislature will legalize the practice in the near future.
Penalties for Lane Splitting in Pennsylvania
If you’re caught by a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania
Supported by the American Motorcyclist Association, many riders in Pennsylvania argue that lane splitting is both safe and a great way to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
However, there are many people, including government officials, who oppose lane splitting and claim it increases danger on the roadways.
They cite the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s crash statistics, which show that there were around 3,500 motorcycle accidents in 2020 resulting in 217 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 Pennsylvania anytime soon, so it’s best to avoid the practice to stay safe and avoid fines and liability in the case of an accident.