Many motorists can probably think about a time when they were sitting in heavy, slow traffic and wished that they could just maneuver their way around the stopped cars. Drivers are limited in what they can do to ease the strain of traffic, though California motorcyclists have a bit more options.
Lane splitting is what motorcyclists are engaging in when they travel between various lanes that are moving in the same direction. It is a legal driving practice as long as the riders are driving at a reasonable speed and aren't otherwise driving recklessly. A recent bill would have done away with some of the freedom for motorcyclists, but it has been put on hold.
State Sen. Jim Beall of San Jose introduced a bill last month that sought to more strictly limit lane-splitting by motorcyclists. If passed, the law would have only allowed motorcycles to split lanes when there are at least three lanes and high traffic, for example. But it didn't pass. Sen. Beall withdrew the proposal in order to evaluate the matter further.
Some critics of lane-splitting see it as a dangerous behavior that increases the risk of traffic accidents. But supporters of the current laws that allow the practice argue that lane-splitting eases traffic congestion. Limiting the practice would create further traffic stress on California roads.
Legislation that addresses motorcyclists' driving suggests that it is their driving that creates danger on the roads. Many drivers of standard vehicles are the culprits behind motorcycle accidents. Yes, lane-splitting can be done recklessly by a motorcyclist and cause an accident, but drivers who fail to watch for motorcyclists can cause an accident even if a motorcyclist follows traffic laws and splits lanes safely.
Source: Motorcycle USA, "CA Lane Splitting Restriction Bill Withdrawn," Feb. 27, 2013
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