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Tips to reduce the risks of lane splitting

Lane splitting occurs when motorcyclists drive between marked travel lanes on California freeways and streets. Each rider is accountable for their own safety and decision making. However, drivers of other vehicles on the road also have responsibilities.

According to the Los Angeles Times, state legislation that took effect in January 2017 made lane splitting legal. The law contains provisions regarding how other vehicles should respond to this action, including making it illegal to purposefully impede or block a motorcyclist. California Highway Patrol released a tip sheet for motorcyclists for safely sharing the road, that includes the following:

  • Danger increases when there is a significant speed differential between motorcycles and nearby vehicles.
  • Consider the road conditions and environments, such as the travel lane width, size of vehicles in the immediate area, weather and road conditions.
  • Be visible by wearing bright colors and staying out of other vehicle blind spots.
  • Avoid lane sharing near large vehicles. They often have larger blind spots and require more time and distance to maneuver.

The safety tips were developed to assist riders who wish to practice lane splitting, but they cannot guarantee accident avoidance. CHP advises that lane splitting can be dangerous and recommends that only experienced riders perform these maneuvers. Additional information includes the following:

  • Splitting the far left lanes is typically safer than other lanes of traffic.
  • Regardless of lane location, lingering between vehicles is dangerous.  
  • Riding on the shoulder is illegal for all motorized vehicles, it is not considered lane splitting.

Being alert, focused and anticipating the movements of other vehicles can reduce the potential for an accident. Keep in mind that, in the event of a collision, the risk of severe injury or death increases with speed. 

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