If you’ve ever driven in the stop and go traffic of California then you’ve probably seen a motorcyclist zip past you as they make their way between you and the vehicle next to you in the other lane. Called lane splitting or filtering, it’s a maneuver that is unique to California where our laws neither allow nor prohibit riders from travelling in the same direction as moving vehicles while navigating between lanes.
But this practice is incredibly controversial in our state, pitting safety advocates against those who feel that the practice eases congestion that could result in even more accidents. So where do you stand on the issue? Do you think lane-splitting is a good or bad idea? Let’s look at both sides of the argument to help you answer this question.
On one side of the debate you have the people who are concerned about the safety of motorcycle riders. Even though lane splitting is technically allowed in our state, this does not mean that the practice comes without risk. In fact, there have been a number of motorcycle accidents that have occurred over the years where lane splitting was a reported factor. Motorcyclists are especially at risk of injury in crashes because they lack the protective cabin other motor vehicles possess.
Further to the point, the California Highway Patrol removed useful information and guidelines from its website that were supposed to provide “common-sense traffic safety” tips to help motorcyclists use lane splitting effectively and safely. As we pointed out in one of our articles, removing this information has now made it nearly impossible for responsible riders to execute lane splitting safely, perhaps adding to the risk of an accident.
On the other hand though are people who believe that the practice may not be as dangerous as their opponents believe. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley say that motorcyclists who execute lane splitting safely are involved in fewer accidents than those who did not use lane splitting. Researchers also noted that lane-splitting motorcyclists suffered less severe injuries during accidents and were less likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
With such strong arguments being made on either side of the issue, it’s ultimately up to our Los Angeles readers to decide if it’s a practice they would participate in or if it’s something they will steer away from down the road.
Sources: twowheelmania.com, “AMA Encourages Motorcycle Lane-Splitting After Study Shows Benefits,” Nov. 2, 2014
The California Highway Patrol, “Motorcycle Safety Information Update,” Accessed Nov. 12, 2014