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Know Your Rights: Motorcycle Lane Splitting And Lane Sharing

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May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As part of our Know Your Rights blog post series, we would like to educate motorcyclists in Los Angeles and the surrounding communities about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to lane splitting and lane sharing in California.

What is lane splitting?

Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between the lanes, including during slow or stopped traffic. Lane splitting is legal in California. The California Highway Patrol has issued safety suggestions for motorcyclists when it comes lane splitting. These safety tips include:

  • Not driving more than 10 miles per hour faster than traffic
  • Not splitting lanes driving faster than 30 miles per hour
  • Not splitting lanes near merging points
  • Watching for cars in the distance

These are just safety recommendations by the CHP. The only reason a motorcyclist may face a traffic ticket is if a CHP officer determines their driving is unsafe and dangerous to themselves and other motorists, according to the CHP.

When to avoid lane splitting

Lane splitting is legal but it may not always be the safest option. Motorcyclists should avoid lane splitting under the following situations:

  • Near or at toll booths
  • Traffic is moving too fast
  • Dangerous road conditions, such as wet or slippery roads or during road construction
  • Around curves and other areas with limited visibility

What to know about lane sharing

Lane sharing is when two motorcycles are driving the same direction in the same lane. Motorcyclists can also share a lane with a motor vehicle if there is enough space in the lane. Lane sharing is legal on roads with at least two lanes going in the same direction. Like lane splitting, lane sharing allows motorcyclists to move between traffic and avoid potential hazards on the road. Motorcyclists should only practice lane sharing when it safe to do so and doesn't pose a risk to themselves or others on the road.

Always wear your helmet

All motorcyclists and passengers are required to wear a DOT compliant helmet while riding according to the DOT FMVSS 218 standard. Failure to follow this law could result in a ticket.

It is important to note that it is illegal for motorists to try to impede lane splitting. California law prohibits motorists from blocking a motorcyclist on the road or opening their vehicle door to impede a motorcycle rider.

You have rights as a motorcyclist in California, but it is also important to recognize that not everyone will give you the same respect as a motorist on the road. Following these tips can help you become more aware of potential hazards and help you take proactive steps to stay safe.

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