While it’s been practiced and accepted by law enforcement agencies in California for decades, lane splitting has never officially been declared legal or illegal. The controversial and highly debated practice was officially legalized on August 19, 2016, when Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 51 into law. Many motorcyclists insist lane splitting is safe, but a majority of the driving public disapproves of the practice. California motorcycle accident attorneys prompt drivers and riders alike to watch out for each other to prevent accidents.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Only in California are motorcyclists allowed to split the lanes when stuck in traffic. This is a common highway maneuver allowing motorcycle riders to weave in between two lanes of stopped or moving traffic on divided or undivided streets or highways. Although other states are considering legalizing the practice, California is the first in the nation to do so—with certain stipulations.
Lane Splitting Safety
A California Office of Traffic Safety study released in 2015 indicated that while lane splitting appears to be a relatively safe motorcycling strategy, when done correctly, there also appear to be some inherent risks. A primary risk is other vehicles changing lanes while motorcyclists are lane splitting.
This reinforces the importance of vehicle and motorcycle drivers paying attention and not driving distracted. Watching out for other drivers on the road and keeping a safe distance between vehicles of any kind can drastically cut down on accidents.
Motorcyclists who avoid lane splitting in fast-moving traffic and/or at excessive speeds further reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. When filtering between a lane of moving traffic and parked cars, motorcyclists should also stay alert for opening doors.
Stipulations to the Law
While Assembly Bill No. 51 legalizes lane splitting, it also authorizes the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop guidelines to ensure the safety of motorcyclists, drivers, and passengers. In developing these guidelines, CHP is required to consult with agencies and organizations in regards to road safety and motorcyclist behavior.
These will include the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation, Office of Traffic Safety, and a motorcycle organization that focuses on motorcyclist safety. CHP will begin working out speed limits and other safety guidelines in January, but it could take some time before a happy medium can be found between everyone concerned.
When traveling on your motorcycle out of state, California motorcycle accident attorneys remind you that lane splitting isn’t allowed outside California. Some states actually have laws that explicitly ban lane splitting, and police officers in states without a ban don’t condone the practice.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident in California, contact California Injury Attorneys in West Hollywood immediately at (323) 999-HELP. With over twenty-five years of experience handling injury accidents, we aggressively fight to get you the money you deserve for your injuries and other damages, so you can focus on healing. Call now for a free consultation with a California motorcycle accident attorney today!