We have all seen motorcycle riders riding between lanes of traffic, either to get to their destinations faster or to avoid rear-end collisions. Also known as “lane splitting,” motorcycle riders in California can legally ride between lanes of traffic. Lane splitting can reduce traffic congestion and in some cases may help riders avoid motorcycle accidents.
California was the first state in the United States to legally recognize the practice of lane splitting. Before 2016, lane splitting was not illegal, but also not codified into state law.
Under the new law, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) wrote guidelines for engaging in safe lane splitting. Those guidelines are listed below:
- Motorcyclists should avoid riding at speeds of 10 miles per hour greater than surrounding traffic. According to the CHP, lane splitting dangers increase at higher speed differentials.
- Motorcyclists should avoid lane splitting when surrounding traffic is moving at 30 miles per hour or faster.
- The CHP suggests that motorcyclists should consider the surrounding environment before lane splitting. Motorcyclists should take into account lane width, the size of surrounding vehicles, weather and lighting conditions.
- The CHP recommends lane splitting between the far-left lanes because it is safer than lane splitting between other lanes of traffic.
- Motorcyclists should avoid lane splitting around large vehicles, such as commercial trucks or buses.
- Motorcyclists should avoid riding in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.
- Under California law, it is illegal to ride in the shoulder lane. Riding in the shoulder lane is not lane splitting.
- To maximize safety while lane splitting, the CHP recommends increasing visibility by wearing bright clothing and reflective gear. Motorcyclists should also use their high beams during daylight hours.
How Motorists Can Improve Safety Under California’s Lane Splitting Law
Motorists should help improve safety for motorcyclists who are lane splitting. There are several ways you can help make lane splitting safer for motorcyclists. If you are driving in the left-hand lane, then move to the left to give motorcyclists ample room to pass.
You should always check your rear-view and side mirrors for motorcyclists before changing lanes or making a turn. Be sure to use your turn signals when changing lanes, making a turn or merging into traffic. Finally, never drive while distracted by an electronic device or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You should never try to impede a motorcyclist who is trying to pass you in a way that jeopardizes his or her safety, as it is against the law.
Understanding Fault Under California’s Lane Splitting Law
Motorists and motorcyclists owe each other a duty of care. If you suffer damages from an accident caused by a negligent driver or motorcyclist, then you should contact a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can help you determine how California negligence laws apply to your potential case.
Contact a San Jose Motorcycle Crash Attorney at Our Firm to Learn More
Did you or a loved one suffer harm in a motorcycle accident? You can schedule a free consultation with a San Jose motorcycle crash attorney at our firm by calling (408) 956-6949 or by using our online case review form.
Continue exploring our website to learn more about common causes of motorcycle accidents in California.