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 lane splitting.
So, Is It Legal in New Jersey?
Lane splitting is a legal gray area in New Jersey, but it’s usually treated as illegal by law enforcement. Therefore, you shouldn’t lane split if you want to avoid fines and citations.
California is currently the only state that expressly allows lane splitting. While some states have laws expressly prohibiting it, New Jersey law simply doesn’t address the practice.
However, New Jersey code does prohibit passing on the right. Plus, law enforcement officers may pull you over and cite you for reckless driving. Additionally, the New Jersey motorcycle manual tells new riders not to share lanes.
Future of Lane Splitting in New Jersey
The future of lane splitting looks promising in New Jersey. Bill A4668 is currently passing through the Legislature. This bill would expressly permit lane splitting in New Jersey at speeds 15 miles per hour or lower while the surrounding traffic is stationary.
Representative Brandon Umba introduced the bill in September 2022, and it has since been referred to the Law and Public Safety Committee. If the bill passes, lane splitting would be legal in New Jersey.
Penalties for Lane Splitting in New Jersey
Due to the ambiguous nature of New Jersey’s laws on lane splitting, penalties and citations highly depend on the subjective interpretation of law enforcement officers and government officials. You could be cited for reckless driving or another offense and receive a fine or penalty of varying magnitude.
Additionally, if you’re involved in an accident while lane splitting, officials may determine you to be at fault. 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 North Carolina
Supported by the American Motorcyclist Association, many riders in New Jersey 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 point out that in 2018, 53 people died in motorcycle crashes in New Jersey, according to the Department of Law & Public Safety. In fact, they claim that improper passing was one of the top contributing factors.
New Jersey law is not entirely clear on lane splitting, but for now, law enforcement officers still treat it as illegal and pull over motorcyclists who engage in it. However, a bill is currently being considered by the state legislature to legalize the practice. Until it passes, it’s best to avoid lane splitting and corresponding penalties.