What is Lane Splitting on a Motorcycle?
Lane splitting is a distinctive practice in motorcycle riding that allows motorcyclists to navigate through traffic by maneuvering between lanes. It involves riding between two lanes of vehicles that are either stopped or moving slowly. This enables motorcyclists to bypass the congestion and reach their destination more efficiently.
To better understand lane splitting, let's consider an example. Imagine you are riding your motorcycle on a busy highway during rush hour. The traffic comes to a standstill due to the sheer volume of vehicles. As a motorcyclist, instead of being stuck in the gridlock, you have the option to carefully filter through the lanes, moving ahead while cars remain stationary. This ability to weave through traffic is known as lane splitting.
Now, let's address the legal status of lane splitting in California. California is the only state in the United States where lane splitting is legally recognized. However, it is important to note that it is not explicitly defined by law. Instead, the California Vehicle Code allows motorcyclists to share the same lane with other vehicles "when overtaking and passing in the same direction." The law also states that motorcyclists must exercise caution and ride at a safe speed while lane splitting.
To ensure the safe practice of lane splitting in California, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has provided guidelines for motorcyclists. These guidelines recommend the following:
It is important to emphasize that although lane splitting is legal in California, it must be performed with utmost care and in accordance with the guidelines provided by the CHP. Motorcyclists should always prioritize their safety and the safety of other road users while engaging in lane splitting
Lane splitting refers to driving through traffic congestion or slow-moving vehicles in the area between two parallel traffic lanes, also known as white lining to experienced motorcyclists when they move between the traffic lanes. When they are in the space between the traffic lanes, they avoid stopping in heavy or stopped traffic by lane splitting.
Motorcyclists are less likely to be hit in the rear at lower speeds when they drive between lanes. Riders who maneuver between cars eliminate the risk of any car rear-ending them. In addition, most motorcyclists drive this way at lower speeds, which reduces the risk of injury.
Motorcyclists use two other methods to get through traffic:
● Lane filtering, or filtering between stopped or slow-moving vehicles at a slower speed than lane splitting
● Lane sharing, or sharing with another motorcyclist either in a single lane or lined up side-by-side
Motorcyclists riding between traffic lanes are sometimes called lane-splitters because they are splitting lanes. Therefore, all motorcyclists must know their state's specific laws about lane splitting before using this technique.
Lane splitting, or driving through traffic congestion or slow-moving vehicles by maneuvering between two parallel traffic lanes, offers several benefits for motorcyclists. Here are some advantages of lane splitting:
While lane splitting offers benefits for motorcyclists, there are also some drawbacks and potential risks associated with this practice. It's important to consider these factors to have a comprehensive understanding of lane splitting. Here are some drawbacks to keep in mind:
Because of lane-splitting laws and rules on the road, riders in several states have to fight for the right to split lanes. It's either legal or illegal, leaving it pretty much in a grey area for most states. Here are some states that might recognize it a bit further:
California has legalized driving a motorcycle between the lane separations of stopped or moving cars, whether the streets are divided by grassy strips or concrete barriers. In Assembly Bill 51 (AB-51) of 2016, lane splitting means driving a motorcycle with two wheels on the ground between rows of halted or slow-moving vehicles in the same lane, including divided and undivided roads, streets, or highways.
The California Highway Patrol has been tolerating lane-splitting for years, even before the law was passed by then-governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. The California Vehicle Code did not prohibitor allow lane splitting. Still, motorcyclists could lane split legally anywhere in the state. To help improve safety and awareness, then-governor Brown also required the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines for the motoring public.
Most states prohibit lane splitting because they deem it a risk to motorcyclists. Lane splitting still poses some risks to everyone on the road.
Here is why lane splitting sometimes leads to motorcycle accidents:
● The motorcyclist weaves through traffic, which increases the risk of automobile collisions.
● Inattentive drivers fail to notice the motorcyclist next to their vehicle, leading to a car crash involving the motorcycle.
● The motorcycle driver suddenly drives in front of a moving truck while moving through traffic, increasing the risk of being in a truck accident.
● The car driver fails to see the motorcycle rider in the blind spot before changing lanes.
● The bike rider drives too fast and hits a pedestrian trying to pass through stopped traffic.
Unless you are gravely injured, there are some important things to do at the scene of an accident before the police arrive:
● Call the police, regardless of what the other driver says. You need an official report of the accident to prove the facts of the court case.
● Get the other driver's insurance information and record the names of witnesses.
● Take pictures and videos of the scene. This includes the accident itself, marks on the road, injuries, damages and any other relevant context that might help your case.
● Ask for witnesses' contact information.
After leaving the scene, go to the hospital immediately. Often, injuries are not immediately visible, but they gradually appear. You will be more prepared if you go to the hospital right away. A doctor can scan your body for any damage you may not notice and treat it before it worsens. That way, you will also be able to collect evidence against the responsible party if you decide to file a lawsuit against them.
Motorcycle riders risk severe injury or death regardless of whether they lane split. That said, it's possible to follow a few basic safety precautions if you choose to lane split:
If you reside in a state where lane splitting is not yet legal, do so at your own risk. Keep in mind that California is the only state to fully legalize lane splitting, so check with your local motorcycle association to see how it is defined in your area.
Avoid splitting lanes if traffic is moving at30mph or faster. It is safest to split lanes when traffic is moving slowly or bumper-to-bumper. Remain at least 12mph below surrounding traffic.
Watch out for big vehicles when switching lanes or making a turn. The blind spot on large trucks and buses prevents drivers from seeing you as you change lanes, and the size and weight of these vehicles mean greater impact during a crash.
Always stay alert when riding your motorcycle. Anticipate what other drivers will do to be prepared to react accordingly. For example, watch out for other drivers who are in the blind spots on their side of the road and for distracted drivers.
When you move through traffic lanes, pay attention to the other motorcyclists on the road. Share the road with them and give way if necessary. If you see another biker moving too fast, slow down and let them pass so that you both aren't put in danger.
Lane splitting on a motorcycle is an option when traffic gets congested. However, it's not just legal or illegal, as you can see. It's also a gray area in which other drivers may not fully understand the risks that you're taking. If you choose to lane split, make sure you're doing it slow enough speed and at an appropriate time. That way, you can get through traffic faster and more safely.
On the other hand, if you are the victim of a car accident in which the driver of another vehicle is lane splitting, you can file a lawsuit against them for compensation. Consult with a personal injury attorney today to learn more about your legal rights.
While other firms just handle your bodily injury claim, Mendez and Sanchez Law offers a complimentary full-service package where we will also handle your property damage for no fee! We operate on a contingency fee basis, and our contingency fee policy allows us to guarantee that our clients aren’t putting their own finances at risk. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles, our auto accident attorneys can help. Call us today at (323) 201-5249 for more information.
While California is the only state that has officially legalized lane splitting, a few other states like Utah and Oregon have implemented laws or programs that address certain aspects of lane filtering or sharing. However, the majority of U.S. states do not have specific laws addressing lane splitting, leaving it in a legal gray area.
Yes, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has provided guidelines for motorcyclists in California. These guidelines recommend riding at a safe speed, lane splitting in traffic moving at 30 mph or less, maintaining enough space to maneuver safely, exercising caution, and ensuring visibility to other drivers.
Lane splitting offers benefits such as reduced risk of rear-end collisions, improved safety at lower speeds, avoidance of traffic congestion, and increased fuel efficiency for motorcycles. It allows riders to bypass traffic and reach their destination more efficiently.
Drawbacks of lane splitting include limited space and clearance for maneuvering, the risk of side mirror collisions, driver distraction, speed differentials with surrounding traffic, and negative perceptions from other motorists that may lead to aggressive reactions.
If you are in a motorcycle accident while lane splitting, call the police to report the incident, gather the other driver's insurance information, take pictures and videos of the scene, and seek medical attention even if injuries are not immediately apparent. It is crucial to consult with a personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights and options for compensation.