Lane Splitting in Motorcycle Accidents

Lane splitting is the technique motorcycle drivers use where the motorcycle drives in between two lanes of automobile driving. Since motorcycles are significantly smaller than an automobile, the motorcycle can easily maneuver between two parallel lanes, which during heavy traffic jams on the 5 freeway can allow a motorcyclist to get through congested areas very…
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Lane Splitting in Motorcycle Accidents

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Lane splitting is the technique motorcycle drivers use where the motorcycle drives in between two lanes of automobile driving.  Since motorcycles are significantly smaller than an automobile, the motorcycle can easily maneuver between two parallel lanes, which during heavy traffic jams on the 5 freeway can allow a motorcyclist to get through congested areas very easily.  The danger is that automobile drivers are often unable to see motorcyclists performing the lane split as the motorcycle is usually in their blindspot.  Since the car driver cannot see the motorcyclist, any change in the lane by the car without properly checking for the bike while performing the lane split, can lead to an accident.

Lane splitting is allowed in California

Most states do not allow the lane splitting maneuver.  The lane split is illegal in most states, except for the state of California.  California has tolerated the maneuver for decades, but recently at the end of 2016 fully legalized the maneuver in Assembly Bill 51 signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.  The bill, which when into effect at the beginning of 2017, legalizes lane splitting for all motorcyclists.  Lane splitting has been found to be safe in California if it is used at relatively low speeds.  During traffic jams where the speed of automobile drivers is less than 25 miles per hour, a California study found that motorcyclists who performed the lane split were relatively free from harm.  At higher speeds however, where drivers were driving closer to the speed limit, it has been found to be the cause of almost 20% of accidents involving automobile drivers and motorcyclists.

Lane splitting safety tips

Motorcyclists who perform lane splitting should be aware of the following tips while performing the maneuver.

  1. Safe speeds. Travel at speeds that is no more than 10 MPH faster than the current traffic.  Also do not lane split when traffic flow is at 30 MPH or faster.  The danger of an accident increases as overall speed increases.  The faster the speed of your bike and the relative cars are, the less time there is to spot oncoming danger, and the less time there is to take action to avoid the potential hazard.
  2. Avoid blind spots. Stay out of the blind spot of automobile drivers.  The number one statement involving motorcyclists were that car drivers did not see the bike as they changed lanes.  Bike riders should be alert, anticipate movements by other cars, and stay out of blind spots where a car would not be able to see them.
  3. Perfect timing. Know when and where to perform the lane splitting maneuver. It is typical for a bike rider to lane split on lanes 1 and 2, which are the farthest left lanes.  Car drivers expect this in California, but are less likely to expect it in lanes 3, 4 and 5.  Also do not lane split during exits, off ramps, and on ramps.  Automobile drivers are much less likely to expect a motorcyclist to come in between them during those times, and cars frequently merge and change lanes during on ramps and exits, so the potential for an accident is greater.

Use these tips to safely avoid an accident while performing a lane split in California.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in West Covina or East La while performing the lane split maneuver, know your rights, and contact the experienced accident attorneys at Ghozland Law Firm for a free consultation today.  

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