Is It Safe to Split Lanes on a Motorcycle?

Although most states either explicitly forbid or ignore the practice of lane splitting, California is a unique exception to this rule. Here in the Golden State, motorcyclists are allowed to split lanes freely on the roads and highways – meaning that you are allowed to drive in-between the lines during stopped traffic, or when other vehicles are moving at a slower pace.

Of course, lane splitting is still somewhat controversial among public safety advocates and motorcycle enthusiasts alike, with some arguing that this practice comes with too many inherent dangers for riders. No matter your personal perspective on splitting lanes, however, you may be able to secure compensation if you become injured while riding a motorcycle.

In this post, we’ll discuss the possible dangers (and benefits) of splitting lanes – and how you can seek recovery after a serious crash.

The Risks of Splitting Lanes as a Motorcyclist

One of the best-known studies about lane splitting took place at the University of California Berkeley back in 2015. While the researchers there found evidence to suggest that this practice is mostly harmless, that only applied when motorcyclists were travelling at the same speed as traffic. When travelling up to 10 mph faster than other vehicles – or at speeds higher than 50 mph – motorcycle riders who split lanes were far more likely to get into a life-threatening accident.

Additionally, the Berkeley researchers found that motorcyclists who engaged in lane splitting were more likely to rear-end other vehicles on the road than those who did not split lanes. Of course, given that motorcyclists are so much smaller than other vehicles, this presents less of a significant threat to rider and driver safety than the opposite scenario.

Are There Any Benefits to Lane Splitting?

There’s very little data on lane sharing risks, and even less on the benefits of this practice. Commonplace in Europe and Asia, lane splitting is virtually non-existent in every part of the United States save for California. However, based on some initial studies performed abroad, it’s clear that lane splitting can bring some unique benefits on top of the risks.

In one recent study known as the Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study or MAIDS, European researchers looked closely at over 921 motorcycle accidents across France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. By examining the road conditions that caused each crash, researchers were able to determine that lane splitting or “filtering” played a role in fewer than 1% of all crashes.

They also found that more than 90% of motorcyclists who became involved in an accident were simply riding in a straight line at the time, facing a crash in front of them. This could support claims that lane splitting helps motorcyclists to avoid accidents on the whole, allowing a clear escape route from dangerous roadblocks.

Contact Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

Whether you were splitting lanes at the time of your motorcycle accident or not, at least one thing is clear: Riders face much greater risks on the road than their driving counterparts, and may require financial assistance to help cover medical bills and more. Our injury attorney at the Law Office of Robert J. Kaiser understands this reality, and we’re ready to help you pursue damages if you have suffered catastrophic injuries on a motorcycle. Bringing over 20 years of experience and a compassionate approach, Attorney Robert Kaiser can provide the thoughtful and seasoned counsel you deserve.

For more information, contact our firm at (661) 441-3446 today.


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