For Now, Lane-Splitting by Motorcyclists in California Is Still Legal

San Benito County Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Bay Area Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Over the course of the next year, the California Office of Traffic Safety is performing a traffic study that involves the practice of lane-splitting by motorcyclists. California is the only state in the U.S. that allows motorcyclists to ride between lanes of traffic on freeways in order to pass slower-moving motor vehicles.

The yearlong analysis will study motorcycle crashes that include lane-splitting, a hotly debated issue among car drivers, motorcyclists and safety experts. A number of recent fatalities brought the issue to the forefront in Southern California. Common causes of accidents include such actions as:

  • Illegal lane changes by vehicle drivers.
  • Automobile drivers failing to signal turns or lane changes.
  • Sudden traffic slow-downs or stops.

Splitting Lanes Safely

Motorcyclists and other supporters of the practice claim lane-splitting is safe - if done properly - and necessary to reduce traffic congestion and increase motorcyclist visibility. Lane-splitting also reduces heat exposure for riders and their bikes, a very important aspect in sunny California.

The California Highway Patrol provides the following guidelines for motorcyclists, explaining the safest way to split lanes:

  • Drive defensively, anticipating sudden and unexpected movements by other vehicles.
  • Stay alert and do not drive while sleepy or otherwise impaired.
  • Do not travel more than 10 miles per hour faster than other traffic.
  • Lane-splitting at speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour is not advised.
  • Driving between lanes one and two is safer than between other lanes.
  • Be mindful of lane and vehicle sizes and widths as well as road and weather conditions.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Despite the safety measures taken, accidents still happen, often leading to fatal or catastrophic injuries. Motorcycle drivers and their riders do not have the protections that other motorists enjoy. Helmets, leathers and clothing are all that comes between motorcyclists and the road and obstacles.

Researchers at University of California Berkeley found that while nearly three-quarters of motorcycle drivers in the state split lanes, less than 20 percent are involved in motorcycle accidents. While the crash rates are relatively low, one accident is one too many.

Seek the Help of a Lawyer

If you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney knowledgeable about motorcycle accidents may be able to help you obtain compensation for your losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages resulting from the crash. Call 408-293-7777 today.

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While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with the attorney, please call at 408-293-7777 or complete the intake form below.

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John J. Garvey, III
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