In an attempt to reduce motorcycle accidents and increase the safety of everyone on the road, California has effectively legalized lane splitting. A study conducted by the University of California Berkeley found that lane splitting significantly lowers the risk of drivers striking motorcycles from behind, reducing the chance of injuries. Currently, California is the only state to legalize motorcycle lane splitting, meaning the decision is still heavily debated.
Despite the study conducted by UC Berkeley, people are still unsure of the safety of lane splitting. However, the issue regarding lane splitting safety is not black and white. Like many actions on the road, it comes with pros and cons. Often the safety of lane splitting comes down to the motorcyclists and the circumstances of the incident.
Understanding the Pros and Cons of Lane Splitting
California defines lane splitting as when “a two-wheel motorcycle in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles, is in the same line, including on divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”
The Pros of Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is beneficial because it reduces road congestion, decreases fuel emissions, and it lowers the risk of motorcycle injuries. A motorist that is allowed to lane split can remove themselves from dangerous situations more easily. Riding between lanes, separate from the main traffic flow, puts motorcyclists and other vehicles in less danger of coming into contact with one another. Lane splitting also reduces the risk of rear-end collisions and improves the visibility of motorcyclists.
The Cons of Lane Splitting
While lane splitting increases the safety of motorists, it can also be dangerous. If done improperly, lane-splitting leads to closer proximity to other drivers and road surface problems. When motorcyclists lane-split, they also risk frightening or irritating other drivers. Drivers who are startled or irritated may react poorly to lane splitting, accidentally jerking the wheel, and placing themselves and the motorcyclists in danger.
Lane Splitting Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Lane splitting is not a perfect solution for motorcyclists, but studies show that lane splitting does increase safety when done correctly. Tips for safe lane splitting include:
- Be aware of the environment before deciding to split lanes (width of lanes, size of surrounding vehicles, weather, lightning, and road conditions)
- The danger of accidents increases at a higher speed
- It is better to split lanes between the far-left lanes than between the other traffic lanes
- Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles (semi-trucks, buses)
- Riding on the shoulder is illegal and not considered lane splitting
- Be as visible as possible to other motorists (avoid blind spots or lingering between vehicles)
- Wear protective clothing and gear
Being on the road comes with risks and it’s impossible to predict if danger is around the corner. While there are potential dangers when splitting lanes, motorcyclists can be proactive about their driving techniques and make sure that they are splitting lanes safely.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Setareh Law
If you or a loved one have been injured due to a negligent driver’s behavior, you are entitled to fair compensation. At Setareh Law, we believe in protecting the rights of our injured clients and aggressively pursue their right to fair compensation. As the victim, you deserve to focus on your recovery while a trusted personal injury attorney fights to recover the maximum value of your claim. We are here to pursue justice on your behalf so you can focus on recovering and returning to the life you love. You can schedule a consultation at (310) 659-1826 or fill out our contact form. We also speak Spanish.