California ranks in the top ten states for its drivers spending the most time stuck in traffic, with an average of 31.3 hours per year. Some people ride motorcycles to avoid some of the traffic delays that passenger cars experience. In California, motorcyclists can “lane split,” meaning they can ride between cars stuck in a traffic jam. If a driver intentionally blocks or impedes a motorcycle, they may be liable for the motorcyclist’s injuries in the event of an accident. However, motorcyclists still need to drive carefully while lane splitting and can be held liable for any accidents that occur because of their actions.
If you have questions about lane splitting in California, an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Ali Yousefi, P.C., can give you the answers you need. We will walk you through the process, explain your legal options, and help you determine the best course of action.
What Is Lane Splitting?
California defines lane splitting as driving a motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways. Most commonly, lane splitting occurs when a motorcycle drives between passenger vehicles stuck in traffic. California legalized lane splitting fairly recently, in January 2017. California is currently the only state that allows lane splitting, but other states have passed legislation to fund a study on the legalization of lane splitting within their state.
As stated above, lane splitting can minimize traffic times for motorcycles and improve traffic flow in general. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) endorses lane splitting, suggesting that the practice makes motorcyclists on congested roadways less vulnerable to rear-end collisions. The AMA cited a University of California at Berkeley report from May 2015 that concluded that motorcyclists who split lanes in heavy traffic are less likely to:
- Be struck from behind by other motorists,
- Suffer head or torso injuries in a collision, and
- Sustain fatal injuries in a crash.
If you still have questions about lane splitting in California, contact the Law Offices of Ali Yousefi, P.C., to speak to a member of our team. We have extensive experience in accidents involving motorcycles and are here to help.
Is It Illegal to Lane Split in California?
As noted above, it is not illegal to lane split in California. However, lane-splitting motorcycle riders must still conduct themselves safely. It is illegal to ride a motorcycle on the shoulder of the highway. Lane splitting at high speeds creates a greater risk of a severe collision. Additionally, the state recommends against lane splitting next to large vehicles like motorhomes, buses, or semi-trucks.
In California, it is illegal for drivers in passenger vehicles to impede or block a motorcyclist who is lane splitting, including by opening the door to their car. If another driver causes a motorcycle accident by intentionally blocking a motorcyclist who is lane splitting, they may be liable for the losses stemming from that accident.
An attorney can prove the at-fault driver’s actions by obtaining statements from witnesses, traffic camera footage, and police reports.
Is Lane Splitting Legal All the Time?
Even though lane splitting is allowed in California, it is only permitted when conditions are safe to do so. Motorcyclists are prohibited from lane splitting during inclement weather, without sufficient lighting, and in road construction zones.
Motorcyclists still owe other drivers a duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner when they are lane splitting. If a reckless motorcyclist causes an accident while lane splitting, they can be held liable for the losses resulting from that accident.
Did Lane Splitting Cause Your Traffic Accident? Contact a Motorcycle Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Our motorcycle accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Ali Yousefi, P.C., have in-depth knowledge of California motorcycle laws and stay current on any changes. Our team is dedicated to helping clients who suffer injuries in motorcycle accidents recover the compensation they deserve for their losses. We have represented both sides of motorcycle accidents: collisions where a motorcyclist’s negligence caused an accident and where the passenger vehicle caused the crash. Ali Yousefi, our founding attorney, has earned an impressive 9.4 rating by AVVO, been selected to Super Lawyers, been selected as Top 10 Under 40 by the National Academy, and named one of the 10 Best Attorneys in California by The American Institute. Contact our office today so we can put our knowledge and experience to work for you.