Riding a motorcycle can make dealing with California traffic during your morning commute or running errands faster than driving a four-wheeled vehicle. You can split lanes and slip through traffic easily. However, this behavior, while legal, also comes with dangers.
According to California Highway Patrol, lane splitting involves a motorcycle driving between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. This could include lanes on divided or undivided roads, streets or highways.
Lane splitting dangers
Cars and trucks are not only heavier than motorcycles, but they also have more protection. Safety features from airbags and seat belts to the frame of four-wheeled vehicles often help the occupants to remain unharmed in a collision. If the space between two automobiles becomes too narrow or traffic moves unpredictably as you move up the lane, it could result in catastrophic injuries. Poor road conditions, bad weather and fast-moving traffic can also increase the danger of lane splitting for everyone nearby.
Lane splitting is legal, but determining liability is not a simple process. If you are in a collision with an automobile, the claim can become complex. CHP has guidelines that identify reckless behavior for riders. However, if motorists intentionally block you from passing and cause an accident, they might be liable.
Depending on the situation, a government entity may be at fault. For example, if the road is not in good repair and no barriers prevent travel through the area, responsibility may lie with a government agency. In many cases, more than one party may have liability for the crash. Understanding the complexities of the law can help you understand your options and seek compensation for damages.