Yes, lane splitting is legal in California, but there are some safety tips for both motorcycle riders and people who drive cars and trucks to learn and follow to help prevent devastating injuries to motorcyclists. If you get injured in a lane-splitting accident, you can talk to a Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney about going after the compensation that you deserve from the at-fault party.
How California Law Defines Lane-Splitting
Section 21658.1 of the California Vehicle Code defines lane splitting as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle “between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.” It is illegal for drivers of other vehicles to open their car or truck doors to prevent motorcycles from lane-splitting.
It is illegal to intentionally block motorcycles from lane-splitting in a manner that could injure the motorcycle rider. Vehicles traveling in the far-left lane are supposed to move to the left side of their lane to create more space for motorcycles to pass via lane splitting.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
The California Highway Patrol warns that “lane splitting can be dangerous and extreme caution should be exercised.” Here are some of the guidance the CHP offers for motorcycle riders who engage in lane splitting:
- The roadway conditions, lighting, and weather conditions are important to evaluate, as well as how wide the lanes are, how many cars are on the road, and how large the vehicles are when deciding whether to lane split or not.
- When the motorcycle is going much faster or much slower than the other vehicles, lane-splitting carries greater danger.
- Usually, it is safe to lane split between lanes on the far left of the roadway than between lanes in the middle or on the right side of the road because there is generally more merging of traffic in the right lanes.
- When lane splitting, do not dawdle. The longer you are in the “danger zone” between vehicles or in their blind spots, the more likely you are to get struck by another vehicle.
- Legal lane splitting does not include riding your motorcycle on the shoulder of the road. Riding on the shoulder is illegal and unsafe.
- Wearing highly visible clothing and protective gear, as well as driving with your motorcycle headlight on during daylight hours, will help drivers of other motor vehicles see you more easily.
The bottom line is that all drivers, whether operating cars, trucks, or motorcycles, need to stay alert at all times when on the road. Keep a careful lookout for motorcycles and other vehicles. Signal and check your mirrors and blind spots before turning or changing lanes. Be a courteous driver and share the road.
Recoverable Damages After a Lane Splitting Crash
If the driver of another motor vehicle caused a collision with a motorcycle that was in the process of lane splitting or any other legal maneuver, the at-fault driver could be liable to pay for the motorcycle rider’s damages. These damages can include things like medical expenses, lost wages, long-term impairment, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one got injured in a motorcycle accident, you will want to talk to a Los Angeles personal injury attorney. We offer a free initial consultation with no obligation. Contact our office for help with your case.