If you’ve ever sat through California traffic, you may have looked on in frustration with a tinge of jealousy as a motorcyclist bypassed traffic by riding between columns of automobiles. Many people recognize this act as “lane-splitting.” Some people argue that lane-splitting is safer for motorcycle riders because it reduces the risk that a larger automobile will rear-end them.
Most people were not clear on the legal status of lane-splitting. According to a 2012 survey, 53% of non-motorcycle riders believed lane-splitting was legal. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that the California legislature passed a bill legalizing lane-splitting.
On January 1, 2017, section 216583.1 was added to the California Vehicle Code, marking the first time the term “lane splitting” was legally defined. Under that section “lane splitting” is defined as “driving a motorcycle…between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”
Although California law does not prohibit lane splitting, the new law gives the California Highway Patrol (CHP) the authority to develop guidelines related to promoting safe lane splitting methods. However, the CHP released a notice to motorcyclists and drivers that “lane splitting can be dangerous and extreme caution should be exercised. It should not be performed by inexperienced riders.”
According to the CHP’s guidelines on safe lane splitting procedures, motorcyclists should recognize the following safety tips:
Other cars are obligated to avoid harming motorcyclists while lane-splitting. The CHP’s safety tips on lane-splitting for car drivers involve:
If you or one of your loved ones have been injured in a motorcycle accident due to another person’s negligence, you should consult a skilled Bay Area motorcycle accident attorney to evaluate the extent of your legal rights and options. At the Mitchell Law Firm, our legal team, led by Attorney Tab Mitchell, offers free and completely confidential case evaluations. We are committed to making sure your right to recover compensation for injuries caused by another party’s negligence.
Call us at (888) 483-8614 to schedule a free initial consultation with Attorney Mitchell about your case.