The practice of lane-splitting for motorcycles has been a controversial topic in law for some time now. For those unfamiliar with the term, lane-splitting is when motorcyclists use the space in between or to the side of cars to move forward in stopped or slow-moving traffic. 

This differs from lane picking where the motorcyclist weaves in and out of lanes between slow-moving traffic. It is also different from lane sharing where two motorcyclists are riding together either side by side or in a staggered formation. Lane-splitting (also known as “white lining”) is where the motorcyclist rides along the dividing line between cars in two separate lanes. 

Is lane-splitting legal? 

Mostly, the legality of lane-splitting for each state falls into one of three categories: legal, illegal, or neither legal nor illegal. 

Most states have made the practice of lane-splitting illegal. However, about a dozen states have refused to weigh in with an opinion on the matter. What this means for those states is that lane-splitting is neither legal nor illegal. Instead, police officers may use their discretion when faced with motorcyclists who are white lining. 

If the action seems unsafe in a particular situation, officers may issue a citation.  If not, they may look the other way. Among the states that rely on officer discretion, a handful are considering enacting legislation regarding the practice but have yet to do so. Also, though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has approved of the practice and found it to be safe, only one state has fully legalized this practice to date. 

Is it allowed in South Carolina? 

South Carolina follows the majority of states in making this practice illegal. Because of this, citizens should keep in mind that in the case of an accident involving a motorcycle, the fact that the rider was lane-splitting at the time may cause a judge to find him or her partially at fault for any injuries.