Is Lane Splitting Legal In California?

Written by™ on behalf of Claude Wyle with Choulos Choulos & Wyle.

Is Lane Splitting Legal In California?

While it is important for drivers to look out for other vehicles on the road, this is especially important in the case of motorcyclists. Without the protection of an enclosed car, they are even more vulnerable when it comes to accidents and injuries.

There are many cases in which drivers should be especially mindful of motorcyclists while on the road. One major reason is that some motorcyclists will maneuver around stopped or slow traffic using a practice known as “lane splitting.” This is when they weave between lines of cars—often on the lines separating lanes—or moving back and forth into a “shared” lane with a car in order to more easily beat the traffic stoppage and continue on a stretch of clearer road up ahead. Lane splitting has often been an issue of dispute in many states, and some, citing safety concerns, do not allow the practice on public roads.

What are the laws for lane splitting in California?

However, some states have decided on the other side of the issue. In California, it is currently legal to practice lane splitting—and California was the first to legalize the concept in 2017. The reception of the law has been divided. Some riders like that it allows them to bypass the heavy traffic in many parts of the state, but some car drivers fear that the practice is unsafe and will lead to more injuries and fatalities because of inattentive motorcyclists and drivers alike.

Some studies, however, indicate that lane splitting is actually safer for motorcycle riders in high traffic areas. A study from UC Berkeley found that motorcyclists were less likely to be rear-ended in stop and go traffic if they practiced lane splitting.

While lane splitting is legal in California, there are no current regulations or rules that detail how the law should be observed. The state encourages all those who are on the road to be safe and mindful of others. However, the unexpected presence of other drivers in a lane or between cars can still cause injuries if these drivers are involved in an accident.

What to do after a motorcycle accident in California.

If a driver of any type of vehicle is involved in a collision or other accident that stemmed from lane splitting, it is important that they contact an attorney who has experience handling automobile accident cases and understands the laws that regulate driving. In California, where lane splitting is allowed but not strictly regulated, hiring an attorney who understands the concept and its benefits and drawbacks is especially vital. This attorney can study evidence, witness accounts, and legal allowances and requirements to determine who—if either—driver was at fault, and how all those involved can be properly compensated.

If you drive any kind of vehicle on the road and are involved in an accident, you may not even be aware of your state’s various driving rules and regulations, and what they may mean for you in a legal situation. However, if you contact an experienced attorney, he or she can help you understand how to proceed in the aftermath of an accident and how to move forward with the other drivers involved. In this way, you can recover from the collision more readily and be prepared the next time you encounter a similar situation.


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