California Becomes First State to Allow Motorcycle Operators to Drive Between LanesMost states, including Illinois, have laws that prohibit lane splitting, lane sharing, and lane filtering. These terms are similar but not identical.

  • Lane filtering. This refers to a motorcycle which navigates its way through stopped vehicles and slow-moving traffic. Motorcycles weave their way between various lanes.
  • Lane sharing. This is when two motorcycles ride in the same lane – either staggered or side by side
  • Lane splitting. This is when a motorcycle rider essentially uses the dividing line between two lanes as another lane. Lane splitting is also known as white lining. Lane splitting lets the motorcycle rider weave between moving vehicles at a high rate of speed.

California has passed a law which permits motorcycles to split lanes. Formally, California defines lane splitting as a “motorcycle ridden between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.” The law has been effect for two years.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP), according to the Los Angeles Times, recently enacted new safety rules that apply to car and truck drivers in addition to the motorcycle operators. The guidelines begin by noting that lane splitting is dangerous, even though it is now legal. Additional guidelines include the following:

  • Motorcycle drivers need to understand that they bear the ultimate responsibility for themselves and any passengers.
  • Car and truck drivers can’t “intentionally block or impede a motorcyclist, including by opening a vehicle door.”
  • Car and truck drivers positioned in the far-left lane are required to shift to the left part of the lane to allow motorcycles to get through. Generally, lane splitting works better in the far-left lanes than center or right lanes.
  • Motorcycle operators need to consider the full environment before they split lanes. This includes traffic conditions, lane widths, the size of the other vehicles, the road surface, the weather, and visibility.
  • Operators should understand the dangers of lane splitting increase when the speed differential (the speed of the motorcycle compared to neighboring vehicles) increases. Similarly, the dangers get worse as the overall speed of all vehicles increases.
  • Motorcycles should avoid splitting lanes when large vehicles such as buses, rigs, and motor homes are on the road.
  • Motorcycle drivers should be aware that trucks and cars have blind spots – which means they need to make sure they’re visible to the other drivers.
  • Motorcycle operators should wear bright clothes and reflective protective gear. They should use their high beams – during daylight hours.

Advocates claim that lane splitting helps reduce the danger that a motorcycle will be struck in the rear when freeway traffic is stopped.

While California is the only American state to approve lane-splitting, many European and Asian countries permit it.

The motorcycle accident lawyers at Gainsberg Law understand that just because a law permits a driver to do something, doesn’t mean that conduct is still safe. A driver may be negligent if he goes 30 mph in a 35 mph zone if it’s windy, rainy, dark and the lane is curved.

Our experienced attorneys examine the accident site, the damaged motorcycle and vehicles, and other factors to show how the accident happened. We hold car and truck drivers accountable when they fail to respect the rights of motorcycle drivers. To speak to a strong motorcycle accident lawyer, call 312-600-9585 or send us a request through our contact form.