June 29, 2015

“Lane-splitting” By Motorcycles Soon May be Legal in California

The California Assembly recently passed a law that allows motorcycles to travel between cars at up to 15 mph faster than the traffic flow, a practice called “lane splitting.”  Under the bill (A.B.51), motorcycles could slip between cars at speeds of up to 50 mph. If the measure passes the state Senate and the governor signs it into law, California would become the first state to allow the practice, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article.

The bill’s supporters says lane splitting is safer than requiring motorcyclists to ride behind slower moving cars, which leaves them at more risk of rear-end collisions. However, a recent survey conducted on behalf of state’s Office of Traffic Safety found most California drivers disapprove of lane splitting. 

According to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), while California has neither permitted nor banned lane splitting, the practice is tacitly allowed by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). ” In early 2013, the CHP published lane splitting guidelines for the first time,” according to an AMA statement on lane splitting. “While the guidelines do not carry the force of law, they provide clear indicators under which a motorcyclist might be cited for unsafe or imprudent behavior.”

An LA Times article on lane splitting is available at: http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-motorcycle-lanesplitting-20150528-story.html.
The AMA statement on lane splitting can be found at: http://americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/positionstatements/lanesplitting.aspx.
The bill can be found online at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/15-16/bill/asm/ab_0051-0100/ab_51_bill_20150522_amended_asm_v97.pdf.
The Ewald and Wasserman Research Consultants, LLC 2014 lane-share survey can be found at: http://www.ots.ca.gov/pdf/publications/2014mclanesplittingsurvey.pdf