Lane splitting, also referred to as lane sharing, is the practice of a motorcyclist driving between two cars in stopped or moving traffic on the road. According to one 2014 study, as many as 80% of California motorcyclists reported splitting lanes regularly.
Lane splitting may seem like a dangerous maneuver, but it's a legal and common driving practice in many different countries across the globe. But is it legal in the U.S.? It might surprise you to learn that as of 2016, California is the only state in the U.S. in which lane splitting is explicitly legal for motorcyclists. However, even today, there is no conclusive data on whether lane splitting is safe or risky.
How to safely lane split on the road
According to the California Highway Patrol, while lane splitting is legal, motorcyclists should exercise extreme caution when traveling between lanes in slow-moving or stopped traffic – especially if they are new or inexperienced riders. To keep yourself safe while lane splitting, motorcyclists should:
- Take your total environment into account before you lane split, including the lanes' width, the size of the vehicles around you, and the current conditions of the road.
- Remember that danger increases during higher speed differentials – that is, when two cars aren't driving the same speed.
- Your risk increases as overall speed increases.
- Generally, it is safest to split between the far-left lane than other lanes on the freeway.
- If possible, avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles such as buses or large trucks.
- Riding on the shoulder is illegal – not lane splitting.
- Avoid lingering in the blind spots of other cars when lane splitting.
- Wear brightly colored gear to help other drivers see you.
However, the responsibility for keeping the roads safe doesn't just fall on motorcyclists. Motorists can do their part by checking their blind spots and mirrors frequently to start seeing motorcycles, especially right before changing lanes or completing a turn. Many accidents are preventable if drivers remain alert.
If you are injured in an accident, please call 877-PAYAMLA for a free consultation.