Safety Benefits of Lane-Splitting in California
People often ask me why I choose to lane-split on crowded LA freeways and surface streets when it is, as they put it, “so dangerous.”
My typical reply is the fact doing so affords me to travel distances at approximately three times the rate of those traveling at the pace of traffic conditions. A good example being my daily commute between Studio City and downtown Los Angeles.
On the very rare days that I actually drive my car, be it a nearly unheard of rainy day or one when I have plans requiring it, the travel time to or from work is about an hour and fifteen minutes.
The same trip done lane-splitting on my Harley takes around 25 minutes. This equals eight hours over the course of a week. 32 hours per month…384 hours per year! Okay we can all do math.
This extra time allows me to do the things I want or need, in addition to saving me eight hours of one of the most frustrating things in my life; sitting in traffic. Plus I don’t need to think about the time of day and route I’m taking as traffic plays a much smaller role in my plans.
The perception that lane-splitting is dangerous is challenged by statistics which show rear end accidents for motorcycles are substantially less in California than those states that do not allow lane-splitting with fewer injuries as a result.
This includes states that have more seasonal riding as a result of cold weather and with California’s weather most bikers are riding year-round. More riders, riding more often and less rear end collisions suggests that the protection provided by larger automobiles on both sides of a less protected biker is actually safer than sitting unprotected with a vehicle in front and behind you.
Of course there are many variables and experience only adds to the safety of this practice. Anticipating unaware drivers attempting to change lanes while you are splitting them is a good practice as many drivers are texting while slowly moving in traffic, a practice still rarely regulated by police officers.
Revving the engine, honking the horn and lights on high beam are all more ways to attract the attention of vehicles on both sides of you, alerting them to your presence and making it less likely for a driver to attempt to change lanes in front of you.
Lane-splitting can indeed be dangerous as any other driving practice but if done at a safe speed with all attention being placed on safety and knowledge that cars are usually not looking for you, it can be a safe, time-saving and frustration reducing practice that makes traveling LA’s congested roadways a happier place for us all.
So now when people ask me why I lane-split, I simply reply, “Because I can.”