Bill would make lane-splitting fully legal for motorcyclists

Studies show lane-splitting is safe when within 10 mph of surrounding traffic

A California lawmaker has put forward a bill that would legalize the practice of lane-splitting for motorcyclists, according to KCET News. While lane-splitting is currently quasi-legal in the state, the proposed legislation would clarify when and how lane-splitting can be performed. Although many car drivers find lane-splitting unnerving, recent studies have shown that the practice may be safer for motorcyclists when performed according to certain guidelines. Safe lane-splitting, for example, can even reduce some types of motorcycle accidents if performed properly.

Clarifying the law

California is currently the only state that does not expressly prohibit the practice of lane-splitting, which is when a motorcyclist drives between cars, usually in slow traffic. While the practice is legal in the state, there is currently plenty of confusion among both motorcyclists and other drivers about the legality of lane-splitting.

The proposed legislation, AB 51, would explicitly make lane-splitting legal in California, but would also regulate it. If the bill is passed, lane-splitting would be legal if surrounding traffic is moving 30 mph or less and the motorcyclist is traveling no faster than 10 mph than surrounding vehicles.

Safety of lane-splitting

Although many motorists find it unnerving to see a motorcycle traveling between cars, cyclists argue the practice is safe and allows them to avoid dangerous situations. As the Sacramento Bee recently reported, a UC Berkeley study last year found that lane-splitting is safe so long as motorcyclists stay within 10 mph of surrounding traffic. It is only when motorcyclists go significantly faster than surrounding traffic that the chance of injury or death increases.

The study also found that while lane-splitters were more likely to rear-end vehicles, they were less likely to be rear-ended themselves. Furthermore, motorcyclists who lane-split and who were involved in an accident were found to be more likely to be wearing safer helmets compared to other motorcyclists. The study analyzed over 8,200 motorcycle crashes in the state to determine the safety of lane-splitting.

Motorcyclist injuries

Motorcyclists who are involved in a collision are far more likely than other drivers to suffer a serious injury. The risks posed to motorcyclists are numerous, especially by other drivers who fail to properly check their surroundings.

Motorcyclist injuries can be severe and often require lengthy and costly medical treatment along with time taken off work. The recovery period can prove expensive and, in many cases, compensation will be necessary to ease the financial strain. A personal injury attorney can help any motorcyclist injured in an accident to understand what compensation may be available to them and how to go about making a claim.