Lane Splitting Legal Action
As any California motorcycle rider knows, lane-splitting is in a legal gray area. While most of my fellow riders have never been pulled over for lane-splitting, some police officers and other public officials frown on the practice. I, for one, do it as I feel safer when I split lanes on the freeway as I don’t want to be a siting duck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Also, it’s much faster to lane split.
However, I would love for things to be clarified for two reasons. When riding and doing something that is not officially legal, I don’t always feel comfortable as all it takes is one cop to pull me over and ruin my day. Not only that, with lane-splitting, sometimes car drivers don’t take too kindly to the practice, and if it was fully legal, I would feel much more comfortable doing it. As we all know, in 2013, the CHP actually issued guidelines saying that lane-splitting was safe, and the agency published guidelines on how to do it safely. But, later, the CHP was forced to remove the guidelines when an employee of the state complained by saying that the CHP doesn’t have authority to rule on legislative action.
On Wednesday, August 4th, we got clarification as the state legislature approved a bill that clears up the language and allows motorcycle riders to engage in the practice. All it awaits is the governor’s signature. As mentioned, non-motorcycle riders don’t like the practice, as nearly 61 percent of drivers disapprove of the practice, according to a study commissioned by the California office of traffic safety. By having it legally sanctioned, riders can feel safer with commuters who now know the law, and we won’t have to worry about cops who are having a bad day or don’t know the law.
One of the things about owning a motorcycle that many love is that it’s possible to avoid horrible rush hour traffic, which is too common in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. A study by the University of California Berkeley backs up the idea that lane-splitting is safe as the university analyzed 5,969 collisions and concluded that it was a safe strategy. The only caveat was that the lane-splitting is safe when done at 50 mph or slower, and if motorcycle riders did not go more than 15 mph faster than traffic was moving. Common sense stuff, of course, but it’s nice to see a study that backs up what we have all been saying.
I will always engage in lane-splitting as it’s safer, faster and more comfortable. Whenever I drive my Toyota Corolla, I always watch in envy as the motorcycle riders get to skip all the traffic. Again, while this doesn’t change much as almost all of us do it, I am happy that the state legislature took the time to clarify things, and I hope that governor Jerry Brown signs the legislative piece soon.
Link to study (nearly 61 percent of drivers disapprove of lane-splitting.
Link to study ( lane-splitting was relatively safe)
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