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Motorcycle Lane Splitting

lane splitting

Lane splitting refers to the process where a motorcyclist passes other vehicles by riding between lanes of stopped or slow moving traffic, or riding between vehicles along the lane line. This practice generally occurs on freeways or multi-lane highways. While considered annoying and even unsafe by most motorists (other than the motorcyclist), if done in a safe and prudent manner, lane splitting is not illegal in the State of California.

California Highway Patrol Lane Splitting Guidelines

The California Highway Patrol has developed guidelines for proper and safe lane splitting. For the motorcyclist:

  1. Be reasonable – No more than 10 miles per hour faster than traffic flow and not over 39 miles per hour;
  2. Be responsible – Don’t place yourself in a dangerous position. “If you can’t fit, don’t split”;
  3. Be respectful – Sharing the road goes both ways. Other vehicles are not required to make space for motorcycles to lane split;
  4. Roadways and traffic can be hazardous. Motorcycles should watch for wide trucks, distracted drivers, weather conditions, etc.

For drivers of automobiles, trucks and other vehicles:

  1. Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the motorcyclist is illegal (California Vehicle Code §22400;
  2. Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist is illegal (California Vehicle Code §22517).

Remember, motorcyclists are entitled to the same use of the road as other drivers, and are now permitted even greater flexibility to traverse traffic by legal lane splitting. While accidents will continue to happen, whether due to inattentive motorcyclists and/or unsafe motorcylists, expect the unexpected, and be safe on the highways.

Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Southern California

If you are involved in any type of motor vehicle accident or personal injury claim, the attorneys at Heiting & Irwin are available to discuss your rights.

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