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Is Lane Splitting Legal in California?

Motorcycle Lane Splitting

Motorcycle accidents may end up with the motorist sustaining very severe injuries, and may even result in fatalities. Those who are riding a motorcycle are more likely to be involved in an accident and sustain severe traumatic experiences compared to other vehicle drivers. Our attorneys have been representing motorcycle accident victims for decades, and understand what a traumatic experience may be not only for the motorcyclist, but also for their family members.

Severe injuries can result in loss of income, along with a substantial amount of medical bills that have to be paid. Those who have been injured in a motorcycle accident in California have the right to file a lawsuit against the liable party. One of the most common questions we receive from victims who have been involved in a motorcycle accident is whether lane splitting is legal in California.

What is lane splitting?

Lane splitting is a term used to refer to a motorcyclist who drives between two lanes on the road. Each road is outlined in a white or yellow line. When a motorcyclist goes right on the line instead of within the line, the motorcyclist is lane splitting. This is common between two cars where the motorcycle will ride up between them to pass them.

A couple of years ago, it was illegal to split lanes in California. However, California recently removed that prohibition, which does not make lane splitting legal or illegal. California has somewhat shown a neutral stance to lane splitting. Each state has a different set of rules and regulations in place that govern how vehicles are supposed to drive on roads.

The prohibition of lane splitting was removed after several studies have found that lane-splitting was not the number one cause of motorcycle accidents. In fact, it was found that the main causes for motorcycle accidents are when vehicle drivers do not see the motorcyclist, or when the motorcyclist is speeding.

Is lane splitting safe?

Although each state has their own stance on lane splitting, California has seen recent heat lately when they removed the prohibition of lane splitting.  Many people believe that lane-splitting opens the door to motorcyclists to speed through and try to maneuver through vehicles, especially during heavy traffic times. When this occurs, motorcyclists may not be able to correctly determine the distance between the motorcycle and the vehicle, and the motorcyclist could collide with the vehicle.

There are two sides to lane splitting. Others believe that lane splitting prevents vehicles from rear-ending motorcyclists. By making lane splitting legal, motorcyclists have the ability to swerve towards the border of the lane if they feel as though a car is going to rear end them. This prevents substantial injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries.

What are the most common causes for motorcycle accidents?

  • When the motorcyclist is speeding
  • When other vehicles on the road are speeding
  • When other vehicles on the road are engaging in distracted driving
  • Defects in the motorcycle

What are the benefits of lane splitting?

Many believe that with lane splitting come many benefits that all of society can enjoy. Examples of benefits include:

  • Reducing traffic on the roads: when motorcyclists engage in lane splitting, less vehicles will be on the road, and it will decrease traffic as there are less vehicles waiting back-to-back on the road.
  • Save gas: a motorcyclist could save a substantial amount of gas when they are riding between lanes rather than sitting through traffic.
  • Less accidents: Many believe that because motorcyclists can swerve elsewhere through lanes, they will swerve through any potential accidents that may occur.
  • Visibility: Visibility of motorcycles increases when a motorcycle is lane splitting, the driver of the vehicle will most likely be able to see the motorcyclist.

What are the negatives of lane splitting?

  • Frighten other drivers: when motorcyclists engage in lane-splitting, they could potentially drive very close to other vehicles on the road, and possibly frighten other drivers. Motorcyclists are advised to still maintain proper etiquette when driving, even if lane splitting is considered legal. Motorcyclists should approach other vehicles carefully and within a reasonable speed.

How To Avoid Lane Splitting Accidents

If you are a motorcyclist who is lane splitting on the roads, there are several steps you can take to prevent any accidents or serious injuries. It is very important that you practice safe riding behavior when lane splitting. California has several millions of vehicles on the road every day, and accidents are bound to happen. It is very important that as a motorcyclist you protect yourself by all means.

  • Always be alert around your motorcycle. Drive within familiar streets, and make sure that there are no vehicles close to your motorcycle.
  • Wear protective clothing. Examples of protective clothing motorcyclists may wear include leather gloves, a leather jacket, and a helmet. California makes it a requirement for motorcyclists to wear a helmet.
  • Always drive with your headlights on.
  • When entering a new line, always look around to make sure that you are not within a car’s blind spot.
  • Lane splitting is best recommended for speeds less than 30 mph. If the traffic seems to speed up and go above 30 mph, it is not recommended that the motorcyclist lane split.
  • Do not be afraid to honk your horn if you witness any car getting very close to you.

Who is at fault in a lane splitting accident?

  • The motorcyclist could be at fault for several reasons: they could be inexperienced, or could have negligently driven between the lanes and caused the accident.
  • Other drivers could be at fault for several reasons: they could have been distracted while driving, or made a lane change without signaling and collided with the motorcycle.
  • The motorcycle manufacturer could be at fault: under a products liability theory, The manufacturer and the retailer of the motorcycle could be held liable for an accident caused by a defect in the motorcycle.

To determine what party was liable in your specific motorcycle accident case, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have regarding your motorcycle accident claim, and are available to make sure that you have all your concerns addressed.

As seen above, lane splitting is a very controversial topic. Many may agree that it has reduced traffic on the roads, but others may believe that this actually paved the way for more accidents on the road. If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, whether or not included lane-splitting, contact our attorneys today to see how we can help you.

Contact our motorcycle accident attorneys

Our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys understand just how difficult and stressful it may be to navigate through the legal process, especially if it is your first time. Dealing with insurance companies, the court, and your injuries could be very stressful. That is why we are here on your side to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Contact us today to schedule a free no risk consultation with our experienced legal team. Our legal team will listen to any and all concerns and questions that you may have regarding your motorcycle accident claim, and we’ll work with you every step of the way to make sure that you get the justice you deserve. Call us today.

***Disclaimer: The content of this webpage, created by Heidari Law Group, is intended solely for educational purposes. While it endeavors to provide a general understanding of the law, it should not be construed as specific legal advice. Accessing and reading this site does not establish an attorney-client relationship with any member of Heidari Law. Furthermore, please be aware that the legal landscape is constantly evolving, potentially rendering some information outdated or inapplicable.

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Sam Heidari

Sam Ryan Heidari

Sam Heidari is the founding principal of Heidari Law Group, a law firm specializing in personal injury, wrongful death, and employment law with offices in California and Nevada. Sam Heidari has been practicing law for over 11 years and handles a wide range of cases including car accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination, and product liability. The Heidari Law Group legal firm is known for its comprehensive approach, handling cases from initial consultation through to final judgment. Sam Heidari is dedicated to community involvement and advocacy for civil liberties.

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