Lane splitting, or “lane sharing,” refers to when a motorcyclist travels faster than the flow of traffic during congested road conditions in the part of the lane that is not used – that is, between two lines or stopped vehicles. Lane splitting is prohibited and illegal in all 49 states, except in California. Although there are no laws that specifically allow this “riding the line” or “lane sharing,” there are also no laws that specifically deny the act either. The bottom line is that lane splitting is a gray area in California.
How Does Law Enforcement React to Lane Splitting?
Most motorcyclists who bank on the fact that there is no specific law that prohibits lane splitting, do this all the time. However, unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies ticket lane splitting. Although these tickets may be arguable, one fact remains constant: many accidents are caused as a result of lane splitting. The reason is that other car motorists on the road are not generally vigilant for motorcyclists in heavy highway traffic. As such, an accident can easily result.
The problem is that California has not adopted any specific law or regulation that clarifies this issue. So, the question still remains as to whether motorcycle lane splitting is legal? The answer, unfortunately, is sort of. In the handbook of two main agencies that regulate and police the roadways of California, the California Highway Patrol and Department of Motor Vehicle, it states that motorcyclists can split lanes when done in a “safe and prudent manner.”
The question then becomes what is considered “safe and prudent.” CVC section 22350 prohibits operating a vehicle at a speed that is unreasonable given the flow of traffic. This should mean, in essence, that if traffic is at a complete stop, a motorcyclist can legally split lanes.
Driver Bias May Make Lane Splitting Not Worth It
Assuming that lane splitting is totally legal, you should be aware that lane splitting is generally not favored, and often many drivers despise it. In fact, it is not unheard of drivers intentionally opening a door or swerving in front of motorcyclists to block them from lane sharing. While this may be illegal, it helps to know why motorists get angry.
Imagine waiting in a long line at the grocery store only to find that another shopper easily walks right past you and goes to another check stand that is open, but which you totally failed to notice. It may very well furious you that others who came behind you are paying and leaving quicker. This same concept applies to a motorcycle that simply splits lanes passed motorists who are impatiently sitting in rush hour traffic.
Consult with a Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Los Angeles
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by the negligent actions of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, call the Law Offices of Samer Habbas today at 888.848.5084.
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