May 4th, 2012
In the state of California, it is legal to lane split or share a lane with other vehicles, as long as it is done in a safe and prudent manner. In a recent survey, only 53% of drivers knew this.
The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) survey was the first ever of it's kind. Of motorcyclists surveyed, 87% said that they use lane splitting at one time or another.
Seven percent of drivers admitted to purposely trying to prevent riders from lane splitting.
Motorcyclists are 39 times more likely to die in an accident than a passenger car occupant according to National Highway Safety Administration research when miles traveled are compared. Motorcycle deaths increased every year from 1999 to 2009, and have begun to decrease over the last couple of years.
The California Highway Patrol has some advice for drivers for preventing collisions with motorcycles:
1. Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
2. Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
3. Don't be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle - motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
4. Allow more following distance - three or four seconds - when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
5. Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
6. Never drive while distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The California Highway Patrol also has some guidelines that motorcyclists should follow to remain safer:
1. Avoiding riding in poor weather conditions
2. Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet
3. Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it
4. Combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves
5. Using reflective tape and stickers to increase visibility
6. Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers
7. Never driving while impaired.
[News 10 Net]
3 comments on "Many California drivers do not know lane splitting is legal"
Just wanted to say after living in California, other states, then back in California; splitting lanes is a blessing and a must in Socal traffic. Please do not do things to give legislature any reason to band this privilage. Being able to split lanes is soo wonderful, saves time and saves bikes from over heating. Do it responsibly and at a safe speed. Lets make sure we keep it legal!!!
The California DOT and the AMA should team up to get a "Lane splitting is legal AND makes your wait shorter" for the car drivers. Let them know for every bike splitting lanes ahead of them there is one less car length taken up by a bike. Less time wasted in their cars.
The Japanese, from what I understand, are very aware of that. In the cities they supposedly have (I don't know this for sure) a line for cars and ahead of that they have a line for two wheelers to stop at traffic signals. They realize the bikes take less space and usually can accelerate quicker than cars under ordinary use. So they let bikes and scooters filter up to the front to reduce congestion. True or not I cannot say, but sensible - yes.
Hard to believe only 53% know lane splitting in CA is legal. Seems like plenty of other drivers expect it though and even move over...occasionally.