Many drivers of passenger cars and trucks on today's roads do not have even a basic education regarding motorcycle safety or the importance of sharing the road. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge and awareness can often lead to serious accidents that cause injuries to the motorcycle rider.
One basic fact that every driver on the road should know about is lane splitting. Lane splitting has been controversial and disputed in the past, without a common stance from a legal perspective on the issue. However, in California, the law formally authorizes this practice.
Law authorizes lane splitting
As its name makes apparent, lane splitting, also known as lane sharing or filtering, is the practice of going between lanes, specifically of motorcyclists "splitting" lanes to move ahead in traffic. California law specifically regulates the practice of lane splitting, which it defines as "driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane."
CHP issues formal guidelines
Lane splitting has been legal in California since January 1, 2017. The law authorizing lane splitting also authorized the California Highway Patrol, or CHP, to develop guidelines to educate drivers, passengers and motorcyclists about the law and best safety practices. The CHP recently released those guidelines to the public.
The guidelines include general tips for motorcyclists to enhance their safety while engaging in the practice, such as evaluating the circumstances of where they are riding before deciding to drive between vehicles. Driving on the shoulder, for example, is not lane splitting, and therefore, the CHP advises against it. Visibility is a big issue in terms of lane splitting, and the guidelines urge motorcyclists to increase their visibility by wearing bright clothing and avoiding blind spots.
Another factor that all drivers should know about is that blocking the practice of lane splitting is illegal. Therefore, a driver should never attempt to prevent a motorcyclist from engaging in this practice. Safety is the primary concern for everyone to avoid serious accidents and injuries.