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Proposed law would clarify lane-splitting rules for motorcyclists

On behalf of Daniel Callahan

Current confusion can create dangerous situations for motorcyclists

California is notable for being the only state in the country that allows motorcyclists to split lanes, meaning they can drive between cars in order to beat traffic or avoid dangerous situations. However, many car and truck drivers are still uncomfortable with the practice and often assume that motorcyclists are breaking the law by lane-splitting. Now, according to KCET News, a bill has been put forward that would clarify the legality of lane-splitting, which at least one study shows may help lower the number some motorcycle accidents.

Lane-splitting legality

Some people may question the necessity of a bill to legalize lane-splitting given that the practice is technically already legal in the state. However, lane-splitting in California is currently only legal because the state has never taken the step to explicitly ban it. As a result, there are few rules surrounding lane-splitting, leading to confusion for both car drivers and motorcyclists.

The bill that lawmakers are currently considering would legalize lane-splitting in traffic going 30 mph or less. The motorcyclist would be permitted to travel up to 10 mph faster than that surrounding traffic. While analysts say some of the details of the bill may still need to be worked out, they believe it will provide some much needed clarity to current traffic rules.

Safety highlighted in report

Although many drivers find the sight of a motorcycle moving between cars a bit scary, it may actually be a safer way of driving in heavy traffic, according to one recent study. As the Sacramento Bee reported, a study by UC Berkeley found that lane-splitting was not linked to an increased risk of injury or death so long as the motorcyclist was going no faster than 10 mph than surrounding traffic.

The chances of an accident only increased when motorcyclists went faster than the 10 mph difference. Furthermore, the study found that bikers who split lanes were, for unknown reasons, more likely to wear better designed and more protective helmets. Lane-splitting was also associated with a decreased likelihood of motorcyclists being rear-ended by other vehicles.

Motorcycle accidents

While motorcycles are becoming more popular, it is also true that motorcyclists are exposed to much greater risks when they are out on the road. Being involved in even a relatively minor accident as a motorcyclist can lead to serious injuries due to the lack of protection enjoyed by motorcyclists when compared to car drivers.

Motorcyclists are also very much at risk from negligent or reckless drivers, such as drivers who change lanes without first checking to make sure it is safe to do so. A personal injury attorney can help any motorcyclist who has been injured by a potentially negligent driver. Accident victims, for example, may be able to file claims to recover compensation as a result of his or her injuries and an attorney can be of invaluable assistance during such a claims process.

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