I think we’ve all been there – riding down the highway when suddenly there is dense traffic ahead—or perhaps riding your motorcycle in city traffic, dreading the endless cycles of traffic lights. In both instances, you probably asked yourself Can Motorcycles Drive Between Cars in PA? Before you act, you should know that it could land you in hot water with the law.
Driving a Motorcycle Between Cars – known as Filtering and Lane Splitting is not legal in Pennsylvania. Filtering refers to riding between cars stopped in traffic. Lane splitting refers to riding between moving vehicles in clearly marked travel lanes.
Filtering and Lane Splitting are not legal in Pennsylvania. This is clear – what is less clear is understanding what kind of trouble you could be facing if you succumb to your desire to take a shortcut through traffic.
Can Motorcycles Drive Between Cars in PA: Filtering
Filtering is when a Motorcycle rider moves through congestion – effectively allowing them to skip to the front of the line. Because motorcycles accelerate faster than cars and trucks, they can jump ahead of traffic and prevent being pinched between lanes. Many riders consider this safer than sitting in traffic where a distracted driver can rear-end them.
Filtering is only legal in California and Utah. Other states have proposed bills allowing motorcycles to move through traffic under specific conditions. These conditions include the number of lanes and the speed at which traffic moves.
The significant difference between Filtering and Lane Splitting is speed. Filtering is typically a slow-speed maneuver, while Lane Splitting happens at or below the posted speed limit.
Can Motorcycles Drive Between Cars in PA: Lane Splitting
Lane Splitting is when a motorcycle uses the space between lanes to bypass traffic. The practice is only legal in California, where it is used successfully to fight heavy traffic congestion on highways. The California Highway Patrol defines Lane Splitting as follows.
21658.1 (a) For the purposes of this section, “lane splitting” means driving a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.California Highway Patrol
I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching the legality and penalties associated with Lane Splitting and Filtering in Pennsylvania. It appears to be relatively common in and around Philadelphia (with Forums Posts and accounts of being ticketed), but the penalty seems to vary wildly depending on the circumstances.
In some accounts, the penalties are stiff, with multiple citations being issued. In other cases, the issue is reduced to a Failure to Follow Traffic Control Devices, which carries a $150 Fine (No Court Fees) and 0 Points.
Before discussing the potential penalties for Lane Splitting and Filtering in Pennsylvania, I want to make it abundantly clear that I am an Average Joe Motorcycle Enthusiast. I am not a legal professional nor involved in Law Enforcement in any way, shape, or form. The following information was gathered from online research and may be incorrect. If you find yourself in legal trouble – seek a professional council.
§ 3523 Operating Motorcycles on Roadways Laned for Traffic
Section (c) of this law is clear cut – Lane Splitting is not permitted and carries its own fine. Unfortunately, I have been unable to determine the fine amount or the points associated with this violation.
(a) Right to use of lane.–All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane.
(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.
(d) Limitation on operating abreast.–Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.
(e) Limited access highways.–No motorized pedalcycle shall be operated on any limited access highway.
(f) Exception for police officers.–Subsections (b) and (c) do not apply to police officers in the performance of their official duties.Pennsylvania General Assembly – https://www.legis.state.pa.us/
§ 3304 Overtaking a Vehicle on the Right
Overtaking a Vehicle on the Right seems like a violation more related to Filtering than Lane Splitting. This would occur if a motorcyclist chose to exit a travel lane and use the right shoulder to bypass or filter through stopped traffic.
The fine for overtaking a vehicle on the right is unclear. I suspect that it varies based on the jurisdiction in which the violation occurs. The fine schedule is listed as Fine (doubled in active work zones and emergency response areas) plus Court Fees and carries 3 Points.
(a) General rule.–The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under one of the following conditions:
(1) When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn, except that such movement shall not be made by driving off the berm or shoulder of the highway.
(2) Upon a roadway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of vehicles moving lawfully in the direction being traveled by the overtaken vehicle, except that such movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway.
(b) Limitation.–No passing movement under this section shall be made unless the movement can be made in safety.
Cross References. Section 3304 is referred to in sections 1535, 3326, 3327 of this title.Pennsylvania General Assembly – https://www.legis.state.pa.us/
§ 3305 Improper Passing on Left of Another Vehicle
Improper Passing on the Left seems like a violation more related to Filtering than Lane Splitting. This would occur if a motorcyclist chose to exit a travel lane and use the opposing travel lane to bypass or filter through stopped traffic (effectively making it an instance of passing in a no-passing zone).
The fine for Improper Passing on the Left is unclear. I suspect that it varies based on the jurisdiction in which the violation occurs. The fine schedule is listed as Fine (doubled in active work zones and emergency response areas) plus Court Fees and carries 3 Points.
No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center or marked center line of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless the left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit the overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken. In every event the overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle.
Cross References. Section 3305 is referred to in sections 1535, 1603, 3307, 3326, 3327 of this title.Pennsylvania General Assembly – https://www.legis.state.pa.us/
§ 3310 Following too Closely
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t associate Following too Closely with Filtering or Lane Splitting. However, while researching, this violation seems typical when Lane Splitting occurs.
The fine for Following too Closely is unclear. I suspect that it varies based on the jurisdiction in which the violation occurs. The fine schedule is listed as Fine (doubled in active work zones and emergency response areas) plus Court Fees and carries 3 Points.
(a) General rule.–The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.
(b) Combinations of vehicles and trucks.–The driver of any motor vehicle drawing another vehicle or of any truck when traveling upon a roadway outside of an urban district and following a motor vehicle drawing another vehicle or following a truck shall, whenever conditions permit, leave sufficient space so that an overtaking vehicle may enter and occupy the space without danger, except that this subsection does not prevent a motor vehicle drawing another vehicle or prevent a truck from overtaking and passing any vehicle or combination of vehicles.
(c) Caravans and motorcades.–Upon any roadway outside of an urban district, motor vehicles being driven in a caravan or motorcade, whether or not towing other vehicles, shall be so operated as to allow sufficient space between each vehicle or combination of vehicles so as to enable any other vehicle to enter and occupy space without danger. This subsection does not apply to funeral processions, which shall not be interrupted by any vehicle other than an emergency vehicle.
(Aug. 5, 1991, P.L.238, No.26, eff. imd.)
1991 Amendment. Act 26 amended subsec. (c).Pennsylvania General Assembly – https://www.legis.state.pa.us/
§ 3361 Driving Vehicle at Safe Speed
Driving a Vehicle at Safe Speed, also known as Driving Too Fast for Conditions, seems more likely to be applied to instances of Lane Splitting where a motorcycle exceeds the speed of surrounding vehicles to pass between them.
The Fine for Driving Too Fast For Conditions is $25 ($50 in active work zones and emergency response areas) and carries 2 Points.
No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing, nor at a speed greater than will permit the driver to bring his vehicle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead. Consistent with the foregoing, every person shall drive at a safe and appropriate speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.Pennsylvania General Assembly – https://www.legis.state.pa.us/
§ 3714 Careless Driving
Careless Driving strikes me as the most common violation one would receive for Lane Splitting. Because it is identified as any person who drives a vehicle in careless disregard for the safety of persons or property, it becomes at the discretion of the Law Enforcement Officer.
The fine for Careless Driving is unclear. I suspect that it varies based on the jurisdiction in which the violation occurs. The fine schedule is listed as Fine (doubled in active work zones and emergency response areas) plus Court Fees and carries 3 Points.
(a) General rule.–Any person who drives a vehicle in careless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of careless driving, a summary offense.
(b) Unintentional death.–If the person who violates this section unintentionally causes the death of another person as a result of the violation, the person shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $500.
(c) Serious bodily injury.–If the person who violates this section unintentionally causes the serious bodily injury of another person as a result of the violation, the person shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $250.
(d) Definition.–(Deleted by amendment).
(May 30, 1990, P.L.173, No.42, eff. Nov. 1, 1990; Dec. 8, 2004, P.L.1791, No.237, eff. 150 days; Oct. 19, 2010, P.L.557, No.81, eff. 60 days)
2010 Amendment. Act 81 deleted subsec. (d). The preamble of Act 81 provided that Act 81 may be referred to as the Sgt. Michael C. Weigand Law.Pennsylvania General Assembly – https://www.legis.state.pa.us/
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