Should motorcycle lane splitting be legal in California?

Should motorcycle lane splitting be legal in California?

A recent spate of motorcycle accident deaths near the Los Angeles metropolitan area have led some to ask whether lane-splitting should be legal. In one recent motorcycle accident, a 40-year-old man died when he was lane splitting. The man's motorcycle clipped a vehicle on a highway. The rider was thrown from his motorcycle and hit by the trailer of a semi-truck.

Lane splitting happens when motorcyclists ride between cars on highways and freeways. It is against the law in many states, but not California. Some on the road say that lane splitting is fine as long as motor vehicle drivers follow the rules of the road. One motorcyclist, for example, said he was involved in a lane-splitting accident when a van driver changed lanes illegally. A driver, however, thinks that younger motorcyclists may not realize the dangers of lane splitting.

Last year, a study found that about 75 percent of motorcyclists lane split. About 15 percent of those were involved in crashes. The state Office of Traffic Safety is currently conducting a review of motorcycle accidents; it will determine how many involve lane-splitting.

In the mean time, the California Highway Patrol offers guidelines on the safest way for motorcycle riders to take part in lane splitting. Among them, the Patrol recommends that riders travel no more than 10 mph faster than other traffic and not to lane split when traffic is moving faster than 30 mph. Bikers are urged to consider the total environment they are riding in, including the lane width, the size of surrounding vehicles, and the weather.

Source: CBS Los Angeles, "Recent Deadly Motorcycle Crashes Reignite Controversial Lane-Splitting Debate," May 24, 2013

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