Natural beauty and excellent weather make California one of the best places in the country for motorcycling. California law is friendly to motorcyclists, as well. According KQED, California is the only state to allow lane splitting by motorcycles.
However, lane splitting, while legally acceptable in the state, can be extremely dangerous. It is important to consider the dangers involved and ask yourself if it is worth the risk before lane splitting.
What are the dangers?
Lane splitting puts you in increased risk due to:
- Sudden lane changes: Lane changes by other drivers are among the most frequent causes of accidents involving motorcycles. It is much easier for a bike to go unnoticed in another driver’s blind spot, compared to cars and other larger vehicles.
- Sudden swerves: Similar to intentional lane changes, drivers will frequently swerve to avoid sudden dangers or swerve unintentionally due to intoxication. A motorcycle driving right next to a car will be in significant danger of being struck by a swerving driver.
- Foreign objects: It is not uncommon for someone to stick an arm out of the window, and not everyone is committed to keeping our California roadways clean. Some people will unfortunately throw garbage out of their windows. Further, there are times when a foreign object will be dropped or accidentally tossed out of a window, or a hubcap will suddenly fall off. Land splitting motorcyclists are in danger of being hit by these foreign objects.
The idea of lane splitting is good in theory. It allows more vehicles to exist on the same area of roadway, which can increase the efficiency of traffic flow. But there are serious dangers involved. A motorcycle driving between lanes is much closer to the cars on either side. This greatly reduces to the time and space needed to react properly to sudden dangers and avoid accidents.
When riding a motorcycle or other motor vehicle, the priority should be safety. It is critical to avoid auto accidents at all costs. You should not lane split unless you are confident that you can do it safely.