Motorcycle lane splitting has been a normal practice on streets and highways with traffic. California has become the only state in the U.S. that has made it legal. California Vehicle Code 21658.1 characterizes lane splitting as “driving a motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, and highways.” This came to effect on Jan.1, 2017. Lane splitting has been a subject of conflict a long time before it was legalized. As California included it in the vehicle code, the discussion on safety became more heated. Below is a discussion on the motorcycle lane splitting issue and the do’s and don’ts of the same.
Many drivers see motorcycle lane splitting, as a risky practice which forces an additional burden of alert. Motorcyclists think that permitting lane splitting raises the level of safety. This is because it reduces the risk of being hit from behind when slowing down or stopping amidst traffic.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has issued a list of guidelines to teach both drivers of other vehicle and motorcycle drivers regarding lane splitting safety. These were released through their California Motorcycle Safety Program. Motorcyclists who decide to split lanes are expected to follow these rules.
- Travel at a speed that is not 10 mph quicker than ongoing traffic. Chances of an accident rise with speed. Slower speed makes way for better response time to lane splitting vehicles.
- Do not split lanes if traffic is moving at 30 mph or quicker. Simply stated, if your speedometer displays 30 mph or higher, do not split lanes. At just 20 mph a rider will move around 30 to 60 feet before responding to potential risk. This distance grows higher with increasing speed.
- It is normally more secure to split the #1 and #2 (uttermost left) lanes. Different drivers are used to riders splitting the outside paths. Make sure you do not split lanes close to freeway exits and from inclines where abrupt path changes are probably going to happen.
- Be mindful of the surrounding. This includes the width of the paths, size of other vehicles, roadway, climate and lighting conditions. A few paths are so narrow or vehicles too wide they leave little space to pass securely. The basic rule is: in case you can’t fit, don’t split.
Keep the above points in mind as you drive and consult a motorcycle accident attorney in the event of a motorcycle accident.