What You Need to Know About Lane Splitting in California

Motorcyclists must do what they can to ensure safety on the roadways, and there is a significant debate across the country about whether or not lane splitting is safe. Most states have not legalized lane splitting, but California does allow this practice. Here, we want to discuss what motorcycle lane splitting is and when you can do it as a motorcyclist.

The Legality of Lane Splitting in California

As of January 1, 2017, lane splitting for motorcyclists became officially legal in California. The law says that motorcyclists are allowed to move between rows of stopped or moving vehicles traveling in the same direction. In other words, motorcyclists can make their own lane down the center dotted line between vehicles going the same way.

There are only a few other states where lane splitting is legal, and California was the first to legalize this practice.

What the Studies Say About Lane Splitting Safety

Dr. Tamir Rise of US Berkeley Safe Transportation Research & Education Center (SafeTrec) found that lane splitting actually increases traffic safety for motorcyclists. This study indicated that motorcyclists were less likely to be involved in rear-end collisions during heavy traffic conditions when they were allowed to split lanes and travel between vehicles.

The study also indicated that motorcyclists were less likely to suffer from fatal injuries, as well as injuries to their head, torso, or extremities when they can split lanes.

According to information from the study, lane splitting is a relatively safe activity for motorcycle riders if done in traffic moving at 50 mph or less and if the motorcyclists do not exceed the speed of the surrounding vehicles by more than 15 mph. In other words, if traffic is moving at 30 miles an hour, it would be safe for the motorcyclists to split lanes while traveling up to 45 mph.

However, motorcyclists are not allowed to exceed the posted speed limit when splitting lanes.

Drivers in traditional vehicles are not allowed to impede the traffic flow or safety of motorcyclists who are lane splitting. All motorcyclists are encouraged to watch out for any maneuver by other vehicles to change lanes and adjust their speed or stop lane splitting temporarily while the other vehicle is changing lanes.

Work With a Lawyer if You Are Injured

If you are a motorcyclist and have been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another driver on the roadway, you need to work with an attorney immediately. Even if the accident occurred while you were lane splitting, an attorney can help you get through this. Because lane splitting is legal in California, accidents that occur while lane splitting do not necessarily mean that the motorcyclist was at fault. However, motorcyclists are likely to face substantial pushback or allegations of fault from other parties involved.

An attorney can step in and fully investigate every aspect of what happened, and they may even work with trusted accident reconstruction experts to help prove liability. A lawyer will negotiate with every other party involved and work diligently to recover maximum compensation on behalf of the injured motorcyclist.