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What should motorcyclists know about lane splitting in California?

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motorcyclists have a unique viewpoint on the roadways. They can also do maneuvers that other vehicles can’t do. One of these is lane splitting. This occurs when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of traffic that are moving in the same direction as they are. 

California is the only state in the United States that legally permits lane splitting. Other states have either banned it or simply haven’t addressed it. By making the practice legal, the law set the stage for the California Highway Patrol to set guidelines for lane splitting. This includes safety suggestions, such as only splitting the lane when traffic is going no more than 30 miles per hour. 

Safety benefits and risks

Lane splitting has both benefits and risks. It can help to reduce traffic congestion, but some drivers may not expect a motorcyclist to drive between lanes of moving traffic. It’s possible that lane splitting could reduce rear-end collisions because it removes the motorcyclist from the active traffic lanes and puts them in a sort of neutral zone on the road. 

Best practices for lane splitting

Some believe that lane splitting is safe and others find it inherently dangerous. It’s up to motorcyclists and drivers to operate their vehicles safely, which means remaining courteous and cautious. Motorcyclists should ensure they’re easily visible to other drivers and drivers should remember to watch for these small profile vehicles. 

Lane splitting carries certain risks, such as dooring. California law forbids motorists from opening a car door to impede a motorcyclist. Any motorcyclist who’s injured due to another driver’s actions may opt to pursue a compensation claim for the damages related to the incident.