California Lawmakers May Legalize Motorcycle Lane-Splitting

If you're a true Californian who has spent any amount of time traveling on our many public roads and highways, you have likely seen motorcyclists weaving through traffic and vehicles. This act, known as lane-splitting, is a common practice in our state, especially when in heavy traffic. However, it is not currently legal.

Lane splitting is not currently addressed in California's vehicle code and law enforcement officials have considered the act to be legal - making California one of the only states to more-or-less allow motorcycle riders to weave freely between cars on roads and freeways. A new bill making its way through the legislature may formally legalize the act. Here are some details:

  • Last week, the state assembly approved a bill to legalize lane splitting. Assembly Bill 51 would allow lane-splitting with certain restrictions for how and when it can be done.
  • Under AB 51, riders are limited to 15 mph faster than vehicles they are passing and from lane-splitting above 50 mph.
  • The bill, which now travels to the Senate, has earned mixed feedback due to questions about whether it is safe to allow motorcyclists to split lanes.
  • Current estimates from CHP suggest that up to 80% of riders currently lane split, which many cite as a way to avoid being rear-ended in traffic. With the restrictions included in the bill, some officials believe that lane-splitting may actually be made safer. Still, lane-splitters face the constant risk of being hit by motorists who fail to see them before changing lanes.

Whether lane splitting becomes legal or not, motorcycle riding is inherently dangerous. This is why it is incredibly important for both riders and motorists to safely share the road. Should drivers act negligently and cause harm to riders, they can be held accountable to the damages they cause.

If you have questions about motorcycle accidents and your legal rights, contact Santa Barbara Injury Law Group for a free consultation. Our lawyers are available to personally discuss your case and right to compensation.