California is a popular destination for motorcyclists. Plenty of people who live in the state use motorcycles as a regular form of transportation because they can ride them all year round. Others will go out for weekend cruises on some of the historic and scenic highways around the state. There are even tourists to come to California specifically to rent motorcycles and enjoy the beauty of California by exploring it on two wheels.
For the most part, the rules about driving a motorcycle are the same from state to state, so driving from one state to another isn’t a major issue. Motorcyclists need insurance and special endorsement. They need to abide by all of the standard rules for traffic and a few special rules specifically for motorcycles.
One of those motorcycle-specific rules is different in California than in the rest of the country.
California allows motorcyclists to split lanes
Lane-splitting is the practice of having two vehicles directly next to each other in the same line of traffic. It is typically only an option for bicycles and motorcycles, not for enclosed motor vehicles. Although almost every state has a specific rule prohibiting lane-splitting, California is the opposite.
State law explicitly allows motorcyclists to share lanes in traffic. Of course, lane splitting can be somewhat dangerous, as it may make it even harder for drivers to anticipate your maneuvers or notice you in traffic. Being cautious when attempting to share a lane with other vehicles is of utmost importance for a biker’s safety.
Bigger vehicles are often the ones at fault for crashes
Although sometimes people driving motorcycles make mistakes at the wheel, often the crashes they experience are not their own fault. People in larger vehicles may not look as carefully around them and people on motorcycles need to for their own safety.
A driver who doesn’t notice a motorcycle nearby could merge directly into a motorcycle or turn right in front of a rider. Lane-splitting might increase the risk of such maneuvers if a driver doesn’t know there is a motorcycle close to them.
Understanding and following California traffic laws will reduce your risk of a motorcycle crash and protect your right to take legal action if you do experience one.