Setting Exceptions for the Only State that Allows Lane-Splitting
Lane Splitting in California is legal. This allows motorcyclists to pass vehicles while riding in between designated lane lines. Even then, only 19 states and the District of Columbia are the only states to establish laws for wearing a helmet when operating a motorcycle.
ABOVE: States that have helmet laws.
SOURCE: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Highway Loss Data Institute
Although lane splitting is legal, California has become the first state in the nation to formalize the practice by establishing guidelines for motorcyclists on how to lane-split safely. The first published lane-splitting guidelines were published in early 2013 by the California Highway Patrol. While the guidelines do not carry the force of law and have since been removed from public circulation, they provide clear indicators under which a motorcyclist might be cited for unsafe or imprudent behavior.
A study by UC Berkley reported that (in California) between July 2012 to August 2013, out of 5,969 motorcycle accidents, 997 of them involved lane splitting. Although the study concluded that motorcyclists whom split lanes under 50 mph were far less likely to suffer any serious injury, the death rate was 1.2% out of the overall 3%.
“A motorcycle’s narrow width can allow it to pass between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars on roadways where the lanes are wide enough to offer an adequate gap. This option can provide an escape route for motorcyclists who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind. There is evidence that traveling between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars (i.e., lane splitting) on multiple-lane roads (such as interstate highways) slightly reduces crash frequency compared with staying within the lane and moving with other traffic.” – National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety (NAMS) Given the amount of excess traffic we endure here in California, lane-splitting doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. So, how should a motorcyclist do so safely?
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.
Safe Driving Guidelines for Motorists
The following are a few highly-recommended safety tips for lane-splitting motorcyclists:
- • When splitting lanes, do so when the traffic is no more than 30 mph. As the overall speed increases, the danger increases as well
- • Avoid splitting lanes when on freeway on-ramps and exits
- • Avoid splitting lanes when another motorcyclist is splitting nearby lanes, as well
- • Just as your parents told you when you were younger to look both ways before you cross the street, do so as well when lane-splitting
- • Also consider the complete surrounding environment in which you are deciding to lane-split. This can include the width of lanes, size of surrounding vehicles, as well as the pavement, weather, and lighting conditions
- • Be alert and anticipate any sudden movements by other users of the road; and
- • Stay calm and minimize road rage to a minimum.
Defending Your Rights
For all motorists who decide to lane-split, please be careful and attentive. Operating a small and fast automobile can result in dangerous impact if not brought into full attention or handled with care. In the event an accident occurs, be sure to contact the knowledgeable personal injury team here at JT Legal Group, APC. Here, we can help you seek proper justice.
Your free, first-time, no-obligation consultation with a reputable Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney regarding your unique situation is available by calling:
888-529-3111 Monday-Friday, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
— Jack Ter-Saakyan, Esq.
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