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Should New Jersey consider allowing lane splitting?

If you’ve ever travelled to the opposite coast, particularly to the state of California, you may have seen a rather peculiar sight: motorcyclists driving between lanes during stop-and-go traffic. To drivers in New Jersey, such a sight is never seen because doing so is illegal in our state. So why do drivers over there get to do it and we can’t?

Because California’s laws do not specifically make lane splitting illegal, the behavior is technically considered legal in that state, albeit something that does come with a few choice suggestions for safe maneuvering. Though the reason why the California legislature has never passed a law either for or against the practice in unknown, some believe that lane splitting is perfectly safe and should be allowed by law.

This begs the question then, is lane splitting something that the New Jersey legislature should consider as well? Many of our Somerville readers have driven in areas of New Jersey where dense stop-and-go traffic has increased the risk of a serious accident, especially among motorcyclists. According to those who back lane splitting, allowing the practice would actually decrease the likelihood of rear-end motorcycle collisions, thereby decreasing their risk of sustaining serious or fatal injuries as well.

Unfortunately, lane splitting does not decrease a motorcyclists’ risk of getting cut off by a driver changing lanes or being side-swiped by a large truck whose driver did not see the motorcyclist. It’s potentially for this and other reasons that it’s unlikely that we will see lane splitting legalized in New Jersey anytime soon.

Sources: Wired, “Yes, We Should Let Motorcycles Ride Between Cars,” Alex Davies, June 1, 2015

American Motorcyclist, “New Jersey State Motorcycle Laws,” Accessed Jan. 29, 2016