The Law Offices OfPhilip M. Tobin

What is lane splitting?

Driving around motorcycles can be a different experience for California drivers. Motorcycles are narrow and smaller than cars, which makes them harder to see, and motorcyclists operate differently than motorists do. One driving phenomenon that is unique is lane splitting, which is only legal in the state of California. It is important that both motorcycle and vehicle operators understand what it is and how to deal with it to enhance safety on the road.

According to the American Motorcyclist Association, lane splitting happens when a motorcycle splits or shares a lane with another vehicle. While this may seem like a dangerous move, studies show that the practice actually improves motorcycle safety. Congested traffic can pose a danger to motorcyclists, but being able to pass next to vehicles reduces their exposure to things such as rear-end crashes. Lane splitting can also decrease the incidences of torso, head and fatal injuries.

Although lane sharing can enhance safety, it can be dangerous if a motorcyclist is not cautious, and the California Highway Patrol outlines some safety tips. Motorcycle operators should not lane split with a large vehicle, when the lane is narrower than usual or during inclement weather conditions. It is safer to split lanes in the far-left lanes of traffic and at lower speeds. To help other drivers, motorcyclists that share lanes should wear bright clothes or reflective gear as well as stay out of other vehicles' blind spots.

Motorists can keep the roads safe by keeping an eye out for motorcycles in their lanes and using signals before changing lanes or merging. They should also remember that it is legal for motorcycles to share lanes and should respect this. 


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