One of the most popular maneuvers used by motorcyclists in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California is the practice of riding a motorcycle between demarcated traffic lanes on freeways and other thoroughfares that become clogged with slow-moving traffic. After many years of resisting action, the California legislature defined and legalized certain aspects of lane splitting in 2016.
The knotty issue of lane-splitting
Motorcyclists are proud of pointing to the relatively small size of their favorite vehicle and their maneuverability when the roads are filled with vehicles. Lane-splitting is one of the favorite techniques used by motorcyclists to avoid these jams. As defined in the statute, “lane-splitting” means riding a motorcycle between lanes of stopped or slow-moving vehicles. Lane-splitting is now legal in California, but motorcyclists are still advised to take special precautions when engaging in this practice.
Lane-splitting safety tips
The most important safety tip is to be aware of the surrounding circumstances, such as lane width, size surrounding vehicles, weather and lighting conditions. Also, the danger to the motorcyclist increases with the overall speed of the traffic and with increased speed differential between a motorcycle and a truck or automobile. Lane splitting should be avoided if large vehicles are close. Be aware that motorcyclists are less visible than larger vehicles and that motorists may decide to change lanes without being aware that a motorcycle is close by. Brightly colored clothing and reflective protective gear can ameliorate this problem. A common mistake by motorcyclists is to ride their bikes on the shoulder. Doing so is very dangerous, riding on the shoulder of a highway is not lane-splitting within the meaning of the statutory language.
Summing it up
The legislation and subsequent regulations have made lane-splitting less dangerous, but lane-splitting is often the cause of motorcycle accidents and death or serious injury. Anyone who has lost a loved one or suffered an injury involving lane-splitting may wish to contact a lawyer experienced in handling claims arising from incidents of lane-splitting for an evaluation of the evidence and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, present and future lost income, and pain and suffering.