Lane Splitting in California—It’s Legal, But Is It Safe?

Lane Splitting in California

It’s Legal… But Is It Safe?

Lane Splitting in California—It's Legal, But Is It Safe?It’s a fairly common occurrence on many of California’s busy roads. Cars are backed up at an intersection or light, or even on the freeway, and a motorcycle will navigate between them to move forward. It’s common because it’s legal. It’s called lane splitting (or occasionally “lane sharing) and has been permitted under California law since 2016. Though it may be legal, there’s no consensus on whether the practice is safe.

In 2015, the University of California at Berkeley conducted a study on the practice. The data gathered indicates that lane splitting is relatively safe, but only under certain conditions. The two most important factors affecting safety are the speed at which the bike is traveling and the speed at which surrounding traffic is moving. Lane splitting becomes unsafe when the motorcyclist exceeds 50 miles per hour or exceeds the flow of traffic by more than 15 miles per hour.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has indicated that lane splitting may reduce congestion and increase safety. Citing the fact that lane splitting is legal in many foreign countries, NHTSA would like to see further safety studies on the practice.

The American Motorcyclist Association, a national group that lobbies for bikers, says lane splitting is generally safe, provided the biker is traveling at a reasonable speed and paying attention to other motorists.

Contact Our Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have successfully represented personal injury victims in California for more than 30 years, including people hurt in motorcycle accidents. We’ll take the time to learn what happened to you, and what your injuries are, so we can tailor our counsel to get the outcome you want. Contact our office online or call us at 1-866-288-6010 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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