“Lane-splitting” occurs when a motorcyclist between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. This practice is against the law in 49 states and the District of Columbia, and California is the only state in the country that does not have a law specifically outlawing lane-splitting. California also does not have a law specifically stating that lane-splitting is legal and, therefore, many motorists become angry when motorcyclists engage in this behavior. Though lane-splitting can be distracting to motorists and can lead to accidents and injuries, the practice can be safe when done in a prudent and safe manner. If a motorcyclist fails to be careful or reasonable when lane-splitting and a collision occurs, any injured victims should contact a California motorcycle injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss a potential case.
Motorists can take precautions to avoid accidents
Motorcyclists are not the only ones who can cause accidents and injuries when lane-splitting occurs, as motorists can also behave in a negligent manner and cause injury to motorcyclists. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) offers several guidelines1 directed at motorists for safe lane-splitting practices. Some of these guidelines include as follows:
- Understand that lane-splitting is not illegal.
- A driver should not decide to try to discourage lane-splitting on their own and, in fact, it is against the law to intentionally impede or block a motorcyclist in a manner that may cause harm.
- Do not open the door of your vehicle in an attempt to block or impede a motorcyclist.
- Avoid distractions that may keep you from noticing a lane-splitting motorcyclist.
- Signal and check your mirrors before changing lanes.
If you are a motorcyclist injured by a motorist who intentionally or negligently caused you harm, you should never hesitate to contact a California victim’s lawyer to learn about your legal rights.
Lane-splitting law tabled until 2016
The legislature in California tabled a proposal2 until next year to codify the legality of lane-splitting into law. The law would include speed limitations for lane-splitting motorcyclists such as only driving 15 miles per hour over the pace of traffic and not lane-splitting at speeds higher than 50 miles per hour. Despite this delay, lane-splitting is not illegal and motorcyclists should be able to ride safely and without injury.