Last year, California became the first state in the nation to allow lane-splitting for motorcycle riders, a practice that had long be legal in many countries in Europe and Asia. Lane splitting, also sometimes called lane sharing or stripe-riding, is riding a motorcycle between lanes or rows of slow moving or stopped traffic moving in the same direction. Lane splitting in California does not give motorcycle riders a free pass to ride recklessly and should be performed with care and caution.
Facts about lane-splitting
Drivers have a duty to share the road with motorcycle riders who are progressing through traffic. This is sometimes where things get hairy, as some drivers do not want to share the road with bikers and become enraged when they see a motorcycle coming up behind them on the freeway, while they are stuck in rush hour traffic. This road rage can lead to disaster for the motorcycle rider and is one very real reason why motorcyclists need to make an effort to make themselves visible to drivers, especially if the rider is encroaching on the driver’s blind spot. Motorcyclists who frequently engage in lane-splitting in traffic on the 101 may want to consider making their motorcycles louder.
When is lane-splitting allowed?
Under California law, lane splitting is allowed when there is slow or stopped traffic. Lane splitting should not to be used when traffic is proceeding at or near the speed limit. To avoid accidents and/or injury, riders are advised to limit their speeds when splitting lanes to just a few miles per hour over the speed of traffic.
Many non-motorcyclists assume that lane-splitting is extremely risky and dangerous. While, if not performed with reasonable care it can be, many motorcyclists and motorcyclist groups argue that lane-splitting is actually safer for riders than sitting in traffic. Indeed, the American Motorcyclist Association has expressed support for the practice, and their support is primarily rooted in safety concerns.
Congested traffic is especially dangerous for motorcyclists because of the risk of a rear-end accident. Rear-enders are the most common type of auto accident and these accidents frequently occur during rush hour, when the cars are bumper-to-bumper and there is little room for driver error. A rear-end motorcycle accident can cause serious injuries for the rider, including death. If a motorcyclist is “tapped” from behind, even by a slow-moving car, the rider could be knocked off the motorcycle and onto the freeway, or thrown into oncoming traffic.
If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another’s negligence, you have legal rights. Contact Woodland Hills motorcycle accident lawyer Barry P. Goldberg today for a free consultation and to discuss your potential for financial recovery.