What is Lane Splitting on a Motorcycle?

Person in motorcycle riding between vehicles

What is Lane Splitting on a Motorcycle?

What is Lane Splitting on a Motorcycle? Is It Legal in California?

Motorcyclists use lane splitting to move through slow or stationary traffic more quickly than other vehicles. In most countries, lane splitting is legal. In the United States, lane splitting is illegal in most states, but it is still a gray area.

In states where lane splitting is legal, its guidelines are typically developed by local highway patrols, state police, and state motor vehicle departments. However, although lane splitting is legal in some states, it's still somewhat of a gray area.

What Does Splitting a Lane Mean for Motorcycles?

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.

U.S. Laws on Lane Splitting

 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. Here's what the law looks like in California:

Lane Splitting in California

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) of2016, 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.

What Are the Risks of Lane Splitting or Lane Filtering?

 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 passthrough stopped traffic.

 What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

 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.

● 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.

 Safety Tips on the Road

 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:

 1. Be Aware of the Laws

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.

 2. Go Slow

 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.

 3. Don't Split Next to Large Vehicles

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.

 4. Anticipate Possible Movements of Other Drivers

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.

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