Lane splitting, or what I call lane sharing, is one of the most controversial motorcycle rider behaviors in California, and the actions of a few irresponsible bikers have led to a bias against good motorcycle riders.
What is the Law in Lane-Splitting Accidents?
California has no law prohibiting lane splitting. In fact, California is the only U.S. state which has an official statement that allows lane splitting or sharing when done in a "safe and prudent manner." And there is the legal issue: what is "safe and prudent?"
As a former Traffic Judge pro tem and someone who has worked with CHP Officers over the past twenty years, I've discovered that the unwritten rule in California is that lane-splitting is considered unsafe when the motorcyclist is travelling 10 mph faster than the flow of traffic or when traffic is going the speed limit. However, this 10 mph language was recently removed from the California Motor Vehicle handbook, so there is no hard-and-fast rule regarding what constitutes safe lane sharing.
My Own Experience
For years while going to school, I commuted on my motorcycle, and I became an expert at judging the midpoint between moving vehicles. I believe that lane splitting, like anything else, can be safe if done properly. In fact, my experience suggests that it might even be safer when traffic is congested. However, the introduction of the California Carpool (HOV) Lanes, inattentive drivers who let themselves become distracted with cell phones and texting, inconsiderate and dangerous commuters, and motorcycle haters who intentionally change lanes or swerve into your path have all changed the game over the years.
So, one day you're safely and legally lane sharing, and suddenly and without warning a car makes an unsafe lane change directly into your path, or collides with your bike, causing you to be ejected from your motorcycle. Your body strikes the car and then the asphalt roadway, causing serious injuries. Isn't it obvious it isn't your fault?
Even though lane splitting is legal, it won't stop a creative cop from concluding that YOU were at fault and cite YOU for riding at an Unsafe Speed for Conditions (CVC §22350), breaking the plane between lanes- Straddling or Unsafe Lane Changes (CVC §21658a), or some other imaginary violation.
You need an experienced motorcycle accident attorney on YOUR side to fight for YOUR rights. At The Reinecke Law Firm we have successfully handled hundreds of lane splitting collision and injury cases. We can help you.
Free call and confidential consultation: If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident call California's best motorcycle accident attorney Tom Reinecke at 800-275-8326 for an immediate, no-obligation consultation. Find out how much your case is worth by or simply fill out our case evaluation form.
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