California Poised to Become First State to Allow Lane Splitting

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Practice Areas: Personal Injury

Lane splitting is the act of riding a bike or motorcycle between lanes while vehicles are simultaneously utilizing those lanes. We have previously discussed lane splitting on this blog. Despite the many dangers posed by lane splitting, California is taking a final step in support of the act.

On August 4, 2016 a bill approving the act of lane splitting passed through California legislature. AB-51 defines lane splitting as an act by a motorcycle having two wheels on the ground, moving through rows of moving or stopped in the same lane.

What are the Benefits of Adopting a Lane Splitting Law?

Although it may seem like a license for danger, there may be some positives to a law that allows lane splitting because it could also provide a more distinctive test for determining whether or not a motorcyclist is negligent in his or her actions.

Additionally, the law authorizes the Department of the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines regarding lane splitting so that, at least in theory, other people on the road are safer than they would be without such guidelines. The Department would consult with other agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Transportation, and the Office of Traffic Safety in determining the best practices and guidelines to adopt.

It is important to note, however, that even though the bill allows for the creation of guidelines, it does not mandate it or further require motorcyclists to observe such guidelines.

Are There Drawbacks to Legalizing Lane Splitting Outright?

The text of the bill essentially does the following:

  • The bill defines lane splitting.
  • The bill provides that guidelines may be promulgated via consultation with state agencies.

So, while California may soon be the only state to legally support lane splitting, the proposed language of the bill does not offer much guidance or any type of limitation. So if you are injured in a lane splitting accident, much of the legal argument will come down to laws of negligence or recklessness. A skilled accident attorney will help you assert the best claims for your case and if your actions contributed to your injury, your attorney will use the facts of your case to develop affirmative defenses.

Simply because lane splitting may have extra risks does not always mean a motorcyclist is at fault for an accident that occurs during lane splitting. An automobile driver’s negligence, impairment or recklessness may be the reason that the accident happened.

What Should You Do if You Have Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident you should contact an attorney right away. You should not speak with other parties regarding the matter because many times, insurance companies and attorneys for the other side are skilled at developing the upper hand in negotiations.

From the Author: California Lane Splitting

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