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California agencies question whether lane-splitting is safe

Motorcycle riders face many hazards on the road, and are often at risk of sustaining serious personal injuries if involved in a motor vehicle accident. One of the questions often posed regarding motorcycle travel is whether it is safe for motorcyclists to split lanes with other vehicles.

Lane-splitting is allowable on California's roads; however, in the past, the California Department of Motor Vehicles and California Highway Patrol have typically discouraged such behavior. For many years, the DMV stated that both motorcycles and other motor vehicles must have an entire lane in order to drive safely.

Recently, both the CHP and DMV have changed their guidelines, now indicating with clarity that it is legal to split a lane with a motorcycle. The CHP went even further to inform other drivers on the road that they could be held accountable if they tried to prevent a motorcycle from sharing a lane.

Although the DMV stated it agreed with the CHP's position, it will be updating its Motorcycle Handbook to state that "inexperienced riders" should not participate in lane-splitting.

Researchers at UC Berkeley are currently conducting a yearlong study to determine if lane-splitting is safe for motorcyclists. The study involves the analysis of data provided by the CHP regarding every motorcycle accident that occurred in the state during the year.

Until a conclusion is made, motorcyclists and other motor vehicle drivers should take note of the law, allowing motorcyclists to split lanes with other motorists. All motorists should always take precautions when on the road to ensure they are operating their vehicle safely.

When someone is injured in a motorcycle accident, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney will ensure his or her rights are protected.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Lane-splitting: Are DMV and CHP in collision?" Doug Smith, March 16, 2013.

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