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Is Lane Splitting Legal in California?

Lane splitting in California has become a bit of a debate over the last few years. Living in Orange County, where the weather is usually nice 80% of the time, you see motorcycles on the freeway all the time. Working for an auto accident attorney here in Orange County has greatly opened my eyes to a lot. Lane splitting for example. Did you know that lane splitting in California is entirely legal? According to the DMV Website, “California law does not allow or prohibit motorcycles from passing other vehicles proceeding in the same direction within the same lane.” As any decent car accident lawyer can tell you, the practice of lane splitting can have serious consequences if not done safely. We are going to go over lane splitting and the best possible practices to keep safe.

Car Accident Lawyer | Lane Splitting

The general guidelines for what is and is not safe for lane splitting in the state of California have yet to be determined. There is an overall consensus that it is up to everyone on the road to create a safer highway environment. For motorcycles and drivers alike. As with anything, as motorcyclists who does choose to lane split, make sure you are staying alert on and using your best judgment.

An interesting fact to note is that lane splitting is only legal and accepted in California. Every other state bans the practice, though others are trying to legalize it. As there is very little data that exists on how safe lane splitting is. However, according to a recent study, lane splitting was thought to be a relatively safe motorcycle practice if done safely. And in traffic moving at 50mph and if the motorcyclists stay within at least 15mph of moving traffic.

car accident lawyer, auto accident attorney

How Lane Splitting Leads to Road Rage

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not at all blaming motorcyclists for the potential of road rage incidents. If anything, I see more people in their cars getting upset at motorcyclists. One time on my morning commute, I even saw a car purposely veer into a motorcyclists path so they could not lane split. Research as shown that people, even here in California, believe that lane splitting is illegal. And that is what incites people to become angry with motorcyclists.

On the other hand, I have seen some motorcyclists not being very careful on the roads and splitting lanes dangerously. It is to be noted that even though it is not illegal here in California, it is necessary to practice safety when lane splitting.

Auto Accident Attorney | Lane Splitting Safety Tips

As auto accident attorneys, our office has seen it all. Drunk driving accidents, wrongful death, motorcycle accidents due to lane splitting, etc. Below are some tips for bikers as well as drivers when it comes to safely lane splitting during the commuting hours.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

  • Consider all of the conditions of the road including weather, traffic, the size of other vehicles around you, as well as other bikers on the road;
  • Danger increases as your speed increases;
  • It is safest to split lanes between the two far left lanes (fast lanes) than any other lanes;
  • Try to avoid lane splitting between larger vehicles
    • big rigs;
    • buses;
    • motorhomes, etc.;
  • Riding on the shoulder is illegal and is NOT lane splitting;

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Do not intentionally block or impede motorcyclist; it is illegal;
  • Opening a door to block or impede a motorcyclists is also illegal;
  • Drivers in the far left lane should move over to the left of their lane in order to give motorcyclists plenty of room to pass;

Auto Accident Attorney | Safety Tips for Everyone

There are also common safety measures everyone on the road can take in order to keep everyone safe. They are fairly common sense, but our auto accident attorney thought we should go over them once more:

  • Check mirrors and blind spots;
  • Signal so that others on the road know what your intentions are;
  • Stay alert and anticipate anything from other vehicles;
  • NEVER ride or drive while under the influence of a controlled substance;
  • Be courteous and share the road – we are all stressed, no reason to add onto that by being rude

Lane splitting is quite a controversial topic in California. Some believe it to be illegal. While there aren’t any studies done that prove it is or is not safe, it is in fact legal. Let’s all share the road and get to our destinations without incident. Especially since the holidays are right around the corner.

If you or anyone you know has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, contact us to speak with a car accident lawyer in our office. Consultations with Silverthorne Attorneys are free!

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