Topic: Motorcycle Accidents
While there is no statute in the California Vehicle Code
that explicitly prohibits or condones lane-splitting, there are laws which prohibit
motorists from intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that
could cause harm to the rider (CVC 22400), and make it illegal to open a
vehicle door in a motorcyclist’s path (CVC 22517). In other words, motorcyclists
have the implied right to split lanes.
However, this begs the question, is lane-splitting safe at
According to a recent study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley, the answer is yes. As long as riders aren’t going more than 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic, lane-splitting is no more dangerous than motorcycling in general. In fact, the practice actually makes riders safer by reducing the number of rear end motorcycle accidents, which make up more than a quarter of all motorcycle accidents.
Out of the 5,969 motorcycle accidents examined in the university study, 997 involved lane-splitting. Those speeding or averse to lane-splitting were far more likely to sustain serious injury than riders splitting lanes at slow to moderate speeds.
Despite this, there is not a single state in the U.S. that expressly permits lane-splitting. The California State Legislature reviewed a bill legalizing lane-splitting last year but did not pass it. It is very possible that the bill will come up again soon. If passed, it would allow motorcyclists to split lanes so long as they do so at speeds no more than 15 mph faster than surrounding traffic and no faster than 50 mph overall.
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