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How Dangerous is Motorcycle Lane Splitting?

Posted by Timothy J. Ryan | May 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

Riding motorcycles is a popular pastime in California. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, there are over 800,000 registered motorcycles in the state, the majority of which are in southern California. Despite their popularity, motorcycles can be dangerous and result in serious accidents or even motorcycle fatalities for operators, passengers and other motorists. Controversial practices such as lane splitting can be dangerous if not done properly and may result in injury or a fine.

What is lane splitting?

Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of stopped or slower moving traffic. Lane splitting is also known as lane sharing, filtering or white-lining. Some motorcyclists believe that lane splitting is a safe and practical way to avoid being hit by behind when traffic in front suddenly slows or stops.

Is lane splitting legal in California?

Under the California Vehicle Code, lane splitting is legal when done in a safe and prudent manner, though it is not recommended for beginners. The Legislature has made several unsuccessful attempts in recent years to make the practice illegal. You can still receive a ticket for lane splitting if you do so recklessly or violate other traffic laws in the process. The California Vehicle Code also states that it is illegal for another motorist to intentionally impede or block a motorcyclist from lane splitting in a way that could cause harm to them.

Is it safe to engage in lane splitting?

In a recent UC Berkeley study of 5,969 motorcycle accidents, 997 of those included lane splitting. The study concluded that motorcyclists who rode at 50 mph or slower while lane splitting were far less likely to suffer serious injuries than those who exceeded 50 mph.

How do I remain safe while lane splitting?

The California Highway Patrol encourages motorcyclists to adhere to the following guidelines when lane splitting:

  • Travel at a speed no more than 10 mph faster than other traffic
  • Do not lane split when traffic is moving faster than 30 mph
  • It is safer to split between the farthest left two lanes
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Be alert and mindful of other motorists

When should I avoid lane splitting?

Although lane splitting is legal, there are circumstances in which it is unadvisable to do so. According to the California Highway Patrol, you should not lane split if:

  • There isn't adequate space
  • You are at or near a toll booth
  • Traffic is moving too fast
  • Traffic movement is unpredictable
  • Dangerous road or weather conditions exist, such as rain, road construction or uneven pavement
  • Large vehicles such as trucks or buses are involved
  • The road is curved
  • You are not fully alert and aware of your surrounding
  • You are not comfortable with lane splitting
  • You are unable to react to changing conditions quickly

What can I do if I was involved in a lane splitting accident?

If you were involved in a lane splitting motorcycle accident where the other party is at fault, a California motorcycle attorney can help you recover compensation for your accident including:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death

Those who would like to obtain a free motorcycle accident case evaluation from a skilled Timothy J. Ryan & Associates legal professional can call (800) 838-6644 to receive assistance today.

About the Author

Timothy J. Ryan

Personal injury attorney Timothy J. Ryan has helped California injury victims recover more than $1 Billion since 1981. Tim is on the board of governors for the Consumer Attorneys of California and received the 2020 award "10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys" for client satisfaction.

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