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Lane-Splitting in New Jersey

Is It Legal? Is It Safe?

Lane-Splitting in New JerseyWe’ve all seen it on the highway or while waiting at a stoplight—a motorcycle scoots between us and the car next to us. It’s called “lane-splitting,” also known as “white-lining” or stripe-riding.” Many bikers do it to avoid traffic congestion, but it’s also considered by many to be safer than stopping behind stationary motor vehicles. Though it’s a common practice, many motorcycle enthusiasts in New Jersey are uncertain whether it’s legal. In addition, there’s disagreement over whether the practice is safe.

Is Lane-Splitting Legal in New Jersey

Lane-splitting is governed by state law, which varies from state to state. At the present time, only one state—California—has specifically declared lane-splitting to be legal. A majority of states expressly ban the practice, but New Jersey is not one of them. The Garden State joins more than a dozen jurisdictions where the practice is not addressed by state lawbut left largely to the discretion of local law enforcement. Though the practice is not banned, a law enforcement officer may cite a lane-splitting biker for failing to stay on the right-hand side of the road. As a biker myself, I am curious as to your thoughts whether it should be legal in New Jersey.

Is Lane-Splitting Safe?

Though little research on lane-splitting has been conducted in the United States, advocates cite two different reports suggesting the practice reduces the number of rear-end collisions involving motorcycles—the Hurt Report (1981) and data from the United States Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). FARS data shows that rear-end collisions with motorcycles are significantly lower in California (30%) than Texas or Florida, states with comparable riding seasons where lane-splitting is either banned (Florida) or not expressly permitted (Texas).

A 2015 study at the University of California suggests that lane-splitting could be safe, provided it is done at a speed of less than 50 miles per hour and the biker is traveling no more than 15 miles per hour faster than surrounding traffic.

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