Lane-Splitting May Become Law in California | Ellis Injury Law

Lane-Splitting May Become Law in California

August 8, 2016

Ellis Law Corporation


Lane-splitting, a practice where motorcycles drive between lanes of cars, is inching closer to become a law in California. Currently the state is the only one in the U.S. that does not explicitly make the practice illegal. If the new law is passed, lane-splitting will become legal in California under specific guidelines.

The state Assembly passed a bill unanimously on August 4 that would allow the California Highway Patrol to set guidelines to make lane-splitting safer. The bill was introduced by Assembly member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), who said the bill is designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety on California’s roads. The bill passed the Assembly with a vote of 69-0 and is now headed to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, where it may be signed into law.

The bill states that motorcycles will only be allowed to split lanes going no more than 15 miles an hour faster than the current traffic. Motorcyclists will only be prohibited from lane-splitting on roads where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour or less. Many believe it is these specifications that allowed the bill to pass the Assembly so easily, since a 2013 bill involving lane-splitting was rejected for being too vague.

Some in favor, some opposed

Motorcyclists in the state are mostly in favor of legalizing the lane-splitting practice. Nicholas Harris of the Western States Representative of the American Motorcycle Association told the Los Angeles Times, “We think it’s a great idea. It will give the CHP the authority it needs to educate drivers and riders of California on the safe guidelines.”

However, some motorcyclists find the speed restrictions in the bill too low. There are others who are concerned that making lane-splitting legal will actually make California roadways more dangerous for motorcyclists and other drivers.

Currently, lane-splitting is allowed in California simply because it is not specifically outlawed. However, the current environment leaves CHP considering the practice acceptable, but without specific guidelines to monitor safety. In 2015, the CHP tried to establish its own guidelines for safe lane-splitting, but a citizen complained that CHP is not authorized to create public policy.

Reasons behind lane splitting

Motorcyclists may split lanes for a number of reasons. While many do it in the interest of saving time, it is also considered a safer practice than sitting on roads congested with stop-and-go traffic. Motorcyclists are at higher risk of getting rear-ended in this environment, which can lead to catastrophic injuries. Motorcyclists also tend to split lanes when the temperatures rise, since sitting exposed in the California heat can be dangerous for long periods of time.

Studies have found that motorcyclists that split lanes regularly tend to be safer drivers overall. These riders are more likely to wear a helmet and other safety gear. They are also less likely to ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Legal recourse for accident victims

The Los Angeles car accident lawyers of Ellis Law support any new legislation that will make California roadways safer. However, legislation alone cannot prevent accidents from occurring entirely. There will still be crashes on our roadways, often due to driver negligence. Victims may see their lives changed in a moment, suffering injuries that can be difficult to overcome.

If you have been harmed in a motorcycle or vehicle accident, the right legal advocate can ensure justice is achieved and fair compensation secured. Call 310-641-3335 to discuss your options with a personal injury lawyer during a free, no-obligation case review.