A recent study conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety found that just 53 percent of state residents knew that lane splitting—when a motorcycle drives on the white line between two designated lanes of traffic—is legal. More shockingly, almost ten percent of drivers admitted to blocking lane splitting attempts with their car.
Lane splitting is legal in a number of countries around the world, including much of Europe. However, the practice is illegal or not explicitly legal in all states with the exception of California, where lane splitting is allowed. Proponents of lane splitting say that motorcycles traveling between lanes is safe, as long as riders maintain a safe speed, pay attention to traffic, and don’t drive recklessly. In addition, those who support lane splitting say it is good for traffic flow, congested roads, and the environment.
Those who believe lane splitting should not be legal say that driving in-between lanes is needlessly dangerous and clogs the roads—and that it is unfair in high-traffic situations.
As the two sides argue over the safety of lane splitting for California motorcycles, few research studies have been conducted to confirm or deny opinions on either side. One famous motorcycle study, the Hurt Report, found that lane splitting may slightly decrease the chance of rear-end motorcycle accidents, but the research has been neither investigated nor confirmed.
A motorcycle accident study in Europe found that 0.5 percent of accidents involved riders who were lane splitting, while another motorcycle crash study based in the United Kingdom found that five percent of fatal or seriously injurious motorcycle accidents involved lane splitting.
The recent California survey about lane splitting found that 12 percent of all motorcycle riders had been struck by a car while lane splitting, while about three percent had struck a car. How can riders stay safe? Traffic safety advocates suggest riding slowly, only lane splitting when necessary, and being hyper aware of the traffic around you. Perhaps the best step which state residents can take is educating drivers about lane splitting so that everyone on the road knows it is legal.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident involving lane splitting—or any kind of California motorcycle crash—an attorney at Russell & Lazarus can speak with you about your possible injury case and legal options. Call our Orange County motorcycle accident lawyers today at 800-268-9228 to request a free, private case evaluation.