California is a state that neither allows nor prohibits lane splitting, also called lane sharing or filtering. It does provide information and advice about this issue, mainly one that can be most dangerous to motorcyclists. The act of lane splitting occurs when a smaller vehicle, primarily a motorcycle, drives in the space between two traffic lanes. This would occur most often on roads that are four or more lanes wide, with double lanes of traffic heading each direction. It is the cause of many motorcycle accidents, mostly on crowded freeways, or in towns where traffic flow is slow and heavy.
Lane Splitting – Pros & Cons
There are many sides to the lane splitting issue. Lane splitting is common in many other countries around the world, where there are fewer cars and trucks, but more alternatives like motorcycles, bicycles, carts and rickshaws. Many U.S. states do not allow lane spitting; California has not made this illegal, but neither is it officially legal.
- Pros – Lane splitting allows traffic flow to be faster and lessens congestion, especially for motorcyclists. They do not get trapped in long lines of cars and trucks. It is more fuel efficient, because less gasoline is wasted idling and waiting for traffic to move forward. In extreme weather, this action is more comfortable for motorcyclists than being stopped. In heavy traffic, lane splitting makes it less likely that the motorcyclist is hit from behind, thrown off the bike and injured.
- Cons – Many motorists do not like lane spitting. They resent being passed by motorcycles and some feel the practice is unfair. Some react in anger, cutting off the space between lanes, opening doors to impede motorcyclists from passing, or deliberately hit the passing motorcyclist. Drivers making lane changes present problems when moves are made suddenly or it is done without signaling. Drivers do not anticipate motorcycles passing in that space, or they are not paying attention and then move into the area right when the biker is there also. The motorcycle may be in another driver’s blind spot and not seen when the driver makes a lane change.
California Lane Splitting Law
There is no specific law in California about lane splitting. The California Highway Patrol had posted lane splitting general guidelines on their website, but since has removed them because of complaints. The guidelines include general information about safety issues. Motorists should not try to prevent motorcyclists from lane splitting, nor intentionally block riders in any way that might cause harm. They should not open doors to stop cyclists from passing, or drive while distracted. It also offered safety tips for motorists, like checking mirrors and being aware of blind spots before turning or making lane changes, using signals prior to changing lanes or merging into traffic lanes, and to keep a safe distance behind motorcycles.
California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Motorcyclists and others who have been involved in an accident due to lane sharing problems can get excellent legal advice and representation from an experienced California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer. This professional has handled many similar cases and is familiar with all aspects of Personal Injury Law that apply to lane splitting accidents. They understand the broad issue and can help you decide what legal options will best serve you to recover fair compensation for injuries and damage claims.
Proving liability and negligence are often difficult for the average citizen. An experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney will work on your behalf to find the evidence and support needed for your claims. For some, these efforts are settled prior to court through mediation and negotiation with the other party or their insurance company. Other cases are more complex and progress into courtroom litigation. Either way, you benefit from the vast knowledge your attorney has in this area of law practice.
When a motorcyclist is involved in a traffic accident, they are likely to have bodily injuries and damage to their motorcycle. Getting fairly compensated for their claims can be a long, drawn out and expensive process. Meanwhile, the medical and repair bills need to be paid while the victim is recovering. Having an experienced California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer working on your behalf is the best way to deal with the financial problems associated with an accident.
Some claims by a defendant will be that you were negligent in your lane splitting actions. Your counterclaim might be that they were negligent in not paying attention to the fact that a motorcycle was nearby or that they were aggressive and deliberately impeded your way. Your attorney knows how to reconstruct the accident scene, interview witness and obtain evidence to support your claims. In severe injury cases, the victim may ultimately die. Their survivors can file claims for wrongful death and associated losses, such as funeral and burial expenses and loss of companionship.
Safety and Lane Splitting
The bottom line of this problem is public awareness and safety precautions. There are numerous publicity campaigns that are trying to inform the driving public about lane splitting and safe driving. Motorcyclists are very aware of the problem, with 80.6% stating they lane split on freeways, and 71.4% lane splitting on other types of roads.
The third phase of in-depth study about motorcycle lane splitting was conducted by Ewald & Wasserman, in 2014. This study shows that motorcyclists are most likely to use lane splitting tactics when they are in stop-and-go traffic, when traffic is moving under 30 mph or less, or when traffic is completely stopped. Respondents also felt that they were most endangered by motorists who were distracted by texting or not looking in their mirrors prior to making lane changes or other moves.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving lane splitting, get the legal assistance you need from an experienced California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer. They will help guide you through this stressful time, as you seek justice and fair compensation for your accident injury claims.