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California Motorcycle Law

Posted by Russell S. Kohn, Esq. | Sep 09, 2015 | 0 Comments

California's year round sunny weather and varied terrain makes it a hotspot for motorcyclists. Another item setting California apart is its tolerance toward the practice of lane splitting. It should be noted that lane splitting is not popular among a majority of other types of motorists. Currently, in California, lane splitting is considered legal although there is no direct Vehicle Code statute on the subject. This may change soon.

Lane splitting, which is also known as “lane sharing” or “filtering”, refers to a motorcyclist traveling between roadway lanes beside other vehicles that are driving in the same direction. As long as this is done in a reasonably safe manner, it is considered acceptable. In several other countries, such as Europe and Asia, lane splitting is also a normal daily routine. Lane splitting allows motorcyclists to travel at a consistent speed, avoiding the unpredictable stop and go traffic, and decreasing their risk for collision. Currently, the majority of motorcycle accidents occur during moderate to heavy traffic.

A safety study conducted by UC Berkeley Professor Tom Rice found l that lane-splitting was safer than being stopping between traffic because motorcyclists would risk being rear-ended. “Motorists just don't see them.” Rear-end collisions account for 40% of all vehicle collisions in the U.S. according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While rear-ended collisions can be as minor as a fender bender, there is nothing minor about it when a motorcycle is involved. Lane splitting allows riders to greatly reduce their chance of being rear ended by an inattentive driver and to avoid this dangerous situation.

Due to the confusion and lack of structure regarding lane splitting, new legislation has been introduced. The legislation pending is California Assembly Bill 51, which would allow lane splitting with the following guidelines: motorcycles may travel between cars only with speed up to 15 mph faster than the flow of traffic, and up to the speed of 50 mph. Assembly Bill 51 was approved without debate, on a 53 to 11 vote, and is headed to Senate.

While lane splitting is beneficial to motorcyclists, a large percentage of other drivers are not in favor. A survey was conducted by the Office of Traffic Safety which found that nearly 78% in Santa Clara County, 77% in San Francisco and 68% in Alameda County were opposed to lane splitting. This percentage wants motorcyclists to behave like every other driver on the road which includes waiting in traffic and not zooming by the stopped cars. It is understandable that drivers may not enjoy watching motorcyclist pass by them in traffic, but safety should be the primary factor considered in determining if lane splitting should be allowed.

Motorcycle accidents can cause severe injuries, such as fractured bones, internal bleeding or even death. Motorcycle accidents can be the result of improper road signage or faulty traffic signals but more commonly accident are caused by reckless driving of another motorist on the road.

If you are involved in a motorcycle collision, take notes. As soon as your head is clear, write down everything you can remember about the accident: what happened, the time, the weather, people present, and every detail you can recall. In motorcycle collisions, time is critical because there is a specified time frame to file accident related court cases. If you are already suffering from your motorcycle accident, you don't want to add more stress to your life because you did not contact a lawyer in time. You should contact an attorney that has won a large percentage of their cases as well.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and it is due to someone else's negligence or recklessness, then you should consult with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in motorcycle accident cases, such as the Kohn Law Office. Your lawyer can gather evidence and testimony to corroborate your story in court. Motorcycle accident lawyers are experts in their field and you can be confident in their judgment.

About the Author

Russell S. Kohn, Esq.

What Makes Attorney Russell S. Kohn Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? As the founder of the Kohn Law Office, Attorney Kohn has limited his practice to representing injured victims in car accidents, wrongful death, and premises liability matters since 1987. Mr. Kohn is a lawyer for people, and...


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