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Is Lane Splitting Legal in California?

a motorcycle on its side after having an  accident.

California is one of a handful of states that allows lane splitting. It is a term used for a motorcyclist who travels between two lanes of parked or slowed traffic on multi-lane roads or highways.

While some advocates believe that lane splitting can significantly reduce traffic congestion, others fear the process is dangerous and leads to serious motor vehicle accidents. If you were injured in a lane splitting accident, a Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer might be able to help.

What is lane splitting?

As noted above, lane splitting—commonly known as stripe riding—is operating a motorcycle in between two lanes of traffic. While it has always been a common practice in California, the state moved to formally adopt it in 2016. According to state law, it is legal to drive a motorcycle between two rows of moving or stopped vehicles in divided and undivided roads, highways, or streets. The only requirement is that motorcycles keep both wheels on the ground while doing so.

Is lane splitting safe?

There is no definitive answer on whether lane splitting is safe or effective. While some studies show the practice is helpful in areas with heavy motorcycle use, it is unclear if California has the number of motorcyclists to make lane splitting necessary.

When it comes to safety, the only major American study on the practice was performed at the University of California Berkeley. According to the research, lane splitting is relatively safe as long as motorcyclists are prudent in its use. Of course, combining lane splitting with acts of negligence like speeding or driving under the influence could greatly increase the chance of a collision.

Lane splitting and personal injury lawsuits

When lane splitting results in a collision, it could play a prominent role in an impending personal injury claim. It might be legal in California but doing so in an unsafe manner could result in a civil lawsuit.

The way a motorcyclist chooses to lane split will largely determine whether negligence was involved in the accident. For example, a rider who travels more than double the speed limit is far more likely to cause a crash. Intoxicated riders or motorcyclists attempting to ride on one wheel are also potentially liable if they cause a crash. Any act of reckless driving could result in a viable personal injury claim.

The actions of the other drivers involved in the crash will also be important. California follows a pure comparative negligence standard. This means tat an injury victim could pursue a lawsuit following a lane splitting crash even if they were partially at fault for the collision. Consider the following example: A motorist in slow traffic attempts to change lanes without signaling. Unbeknownst to the driver, a motorcyclist is also lane splitting at high speed. If the cyclist strikes the driver as he changes lanes, both parties could share some of the blame for the accident. Under state law, the motorist could pursue legal action against the cyclist even though they were partially responsible for the crash. However, the amount of compensation available to them will be reduced by their share of fault.

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Contact our team of Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers

If you have been in an accident with a lane splitting motorcyclist, you could be entitled to financial compensation. At Salamati Law, we have experience holding negligent riders accountable. To learn how we can help, contact us for a free consultation right away.

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We are committed to negotiate your case aggressively, strategically and creatively. Personal injury lawsuits are retained on a contingency fee agreement, and plaintiffs will pay no legal fees unless the firm is able to recover damages on your behalf.

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