In California when traffic is slow-moving or completely stopped, motorcyclists are permitted to pass between cars, in what is known as lane-splitting. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has published general guidelines on this for experienced riders. That said, whenever a collision occurs, liability is still determined case-by-case.
Who is Liable?
Among California drivers, lane splitting is a highly controversial topic for the simple fact that it used to be illegal for many years, despite the police rarely issuing citations. Liability can also be challenging to prove in a lane-splitting Los Angeles accident, although in many instances the issue can be pretty straightforward. A passenger vehicle can be held liable if it hit a motorcyclist who happened to be safely splitting lanes. The motorcyclist’s liability arises and holds if they were, on the other hand, splitting lanes unsafely.
Lane Splitting Guidelines Up Until 2013
- Motorcyclists should not be driving any faster than 10 miles per hour over the speed of the traffic.
- Splitting lanes should be avoided when traffic happens to be moving at 30 mph or faster.
- Splitting lanes is safer when done between lanes 1 and 2.
- The surroundings must be considered beforehand.
- The rider must be prepared for maneuvers from other drivers and riders on the road.
Since the legalization of lane splitting in 2016, the CHP has been given responsibility for coming up with more specific guidelines, although to date, nothing more has been published in this area. Motorcyclists are embracing the new law, while other motorists are starting to feel concerned by these changes.
How Safe is Lane Splitting
According to a pertinent study conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety based on lane splitting accidents which occurred inside a 14-month period starting June 2012, 5,969 crashes had occurred, with 997 of them having to do with lane splitting, forming 17% of the total. Crash data analysis revealed the following things.
- Lane splitting can be relatively safe as a riding strategy, so long as surrounding traffic is not moving at over 50mph.
- Lane splitting is safer when the motorcycle’s speed does not exceed those of other vehicles by over 15mph.
- Lane splitting often puts riders very close to other drivers, and the proximity makes them less able to identify how other motorists are moving on the road and react to it.
In cases with lane splitting at their center, liability is found to be clear-cut very little of the time. A competent motorcycle accident attorney can explain how much compensation can be won legally in case you were injured.