Is Lane-Splitting Legal?

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Riding a motorcycle in California is an exhilarating experience that allows you to maneuver through traffic with ease with riding techniques, such as lane splitting. However, the term “lane splitting” is often viewed negatively. The better term is “lane sharing.”  

While it’s essential to obey all traffic laws and regulations while riding for your safety and the safety of others, lane splitting is legal if done safely. In California, you are legally allowed to engage in lane splitting, sometimes called lane sharing, as a way to reduce time spent in traffic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, lane splitting on multiple-lane roads slightly reduces accident frequency compared to staying within the lane and moving with other traffic.

Of course, not all drivers of passenger vehicles and trucks are paying attention, so you must be careful and assume that drivers do not see you, and your speed should not be significantly higher than that of the rest of traffic. In other words, use reasonable care. 

If you suffered injury in a motorcycle accident, insurance companies may resort to denying or diminishing your claim by alleging you contributed to your accident by lane splitting or attempting to exploit the prejudice against motorcycles to mischaracterize the accident and blame you for the negligence of another motorist. 

At Jassim Law, we are undaunted by the unfair prejudices and misconceptions that affect motorcycle riders and their ability to recover compensation. We are experienced in California motorcycle law and have a lengthy track record of achieving favorable outcomes for clients in San Diego and surrounding areas.  

What Is Lane Splitting in California? 

Lane splitting is a practice where motorcyclists ride between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic. It’s a common sight on California roadways, and many motorcyclists view it as a way to avoid traffic congestion and reduce the risk of being rear-ended. 

In 2016, California became the first US state to explicitly legalize lane splitting and defines it as a motorcycle being ridden “between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.” The law allows motorcyclists to lane split when it is safe to do so. 

Additionally, since many motorcycles are air cooled as opposed to being water cooled, lane splitting in traffic helps to avoid motorcycles from overheating. 

Despite being legal, lane splitting can still be dangerous for inexperienced or reckless motorcyclists. You must ensure you adhere to the speed limit and ride cautiously, as many motorists simply do not have due regard for motorcyclists. 

California Lane Splitting Laws and Guidelines 

To ensure your safety, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) developed guidelines related to lane splitting to reduce the risk of suffering an accident, which include the following: 

  • Evaluate your total surroundings when you are lane splitting 
  • You increase your chances of an accident at higher speeds and speed differentials 
  • It may be safer to split between the far left lanes than the other traffic lanes
  • Avoid lane splitting beside large vehicles, such as trucks 
  • It is illegal to ride on the shoulder, and it is not considered lane splitting
  • Avoid blind spots of other vehicles 
  • Wear brightly colored/reflective protective gear and use high beams during daylight

If you suffered injuries while lane splitting due to a negligent motorist, it is essential to speak with a skilled San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer promptly to protect your legal rights. 

We often see traffic collision reports unfairly, and improperly place blame on the motorcyclist for lane splitting, when in fact they did not do anything illegal, or unsafe. At Jassim Law, we are prepared to deal with this and advocate for you. 

At Jassim Law, we can extensively investigate your accident to determine a driver’s lack of reasonable care when sharing the road. We use accident reconstruction, physical evidence, and engineering to prove that the crash was not the motorcyclist’s fault. 

We tirelessly advocate on your behalf so you recover the compensation you deserve. We understand that you are injured, so we come to you. We also offer video, Zoom, or telephone consultations.

Contact the Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Jassim Law 

Lane splitting is legal in California but must be done safely and responsibly – just like operating any other vehicle on the roadway. Motorcyclists who choose to lane share must stay alert and visible at all times, and should assume that other motorists may not act safely. 

If you were injured in a lane-splitting accident due to a motorist’s negligence, the lawyers at Jassim Law are prepared to fight for you. We work hard not just to recover necessary compensation for victims but also to make communities safer places to live. Our personal injury lawyers in San Diego have the extensive resources and skills to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. Schedule a no-cost consultation by calling (619) 630-2680 or completing our contact form.