Due to the smaller frames of motorcycles compared to other automobiles, drivers can easily fit between rows of vehicles within the same lane. Most know this act as lane splitting, but many motorists are unsure of its legality.
It is important for everyone to be aware of the rules of the road. Having an understanding of which actions are legal and which are not is important to the safety of motorcyclists and other drivers alike.
What does California law say about lane splitting?
Lane splitting is perfectly legal under California law. Furthermore, the California Highway Patrol urges drivers in the leftmost lane of traffic to move as far left as possible to allow motorcycles to pass. Motorists who assume that lane splitting is illegal in California can create a dangerous situation by failing to make way for approaching motorcycles.
Is lane splitting dangerous?
Lane splitting is not inherently dangerous, so long as everyone sharing the road is attentive and aware of the law. Drivers who purposefully impede motorcycles are committing an illegal act and may cause a motorcycle accident. Motorcyclists should also watch out for open car doors and other obstacles when weaving through traffic. It is important to note that riding on the shoulder is not legal nor does it fall under the definition of lane splitting.
Driving a motorcycle may come with a certain amount of implied risk, but lane splitting in California should not contribute to motorcycle accident statistics. All drivers have a responsibility to know the law and to prevent situations that endanger other individuals on the road.