Motorcycle Lane-Splitting In California: Legal, but Misunderstood
Riding a motorcycle has become an increasingly popular option for San Francisco-area commuters. Not only do motorcycles save money on gas, but they also allow riders to better navigate through California’s notoriously congested traffic.
Unfortunately, many motorcyclists’ time-saving techniques are met with frustration – or even anger – from other drivers on the road. Nowhere is this more true than with “lane-splitting,” which is the practice of advancing down the road in between lanes of slow or stalled traffic. Sadly, misunderstandings between riders and drivers all too often lead to dangerous and deadly motorcycle accidents.
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The California Office of Traffic Safety recently surveyed drivers and motorcycle riders about their opinions on lane-splitting. This is the first time such a survey has been conducted in California.
The survey revealed that approximately 87 percent of motorcycle riders in California engage in lane-splitting. However, only 53 percent of drivers know that lane-splitting is legal. Even more troubling is the fact that 7 percent of respondents admitted that they have actively taken steps to try to prevent a lane-splitting motorcyclist from passing. This kind of behavior is likely to lead to a serious collision.
Lane-splitting is legal in California, and that means that all drivers have a duty to share the road with motorcycle riders who are trying to progress through traffic.
However, lane-splitting’s legality does not give motorcycle riders a free pass to ride in whatever manner they choose. All motorcyclists have a duty to exercise reasonable caution when splitting lanes.
Motorcyclists should only lane split in stopped or significantly slowed traffic. Lane splitting should never be used when traffic is proceeding at or near the speed limit. In addition, riders should limit their speeds when splitting lanes. It is best to proceed at a speed just a few miles per hour over the speed of traffic.
Motorcycle riders also need to make an effort to make themselves visible to drivers. Riders should never sneak up on a car; they should also stay alert for vehicles that may be attempting to change lanes. Motorcyclists who frequently engage in lane-splitting may want to consider taking steps to make their motorcycles louder.
California Motorcycle Collision Lawsuits
Sadly, even the most safety-conscious motorcyclists cannot always avoid a run-in with a negligent driver. In those cases, injured motorcyclists have a right to pursue personal injury lawsuits against the drivers who harmed them.
Personal injury lawsuits are designed to make injured victims as whole as possible. As such, motorcycle collision victims can recover compensation for a number of different types of damages including past medical bills, disfigurement, pain and suffering and future medical care.
After an accident, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who knows how to quantify these damages and present them in a convincing way. This is especially true for seriously injured accident victims who will likely depend on their damage award to pay for years of accident-related medical care.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle collision, talking to an experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney can make a world of difference in protecting your future.