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Motorcycle lane-splitting accident causes questions

As we discussed in our last post, motorcyclists across California widely believe the practice of lane splitting with other vehicles is safe. As the practice is not expressly forbidden, the understanding is that motorcyclists are allowed to split lanes with other drivers on the road.

Despite the generally safe nature of lane splitting in California, a recent accident is leading to some questions regarding how safe the practice really is. Typically, when you think of lane-splitting motorcyclists, you envision situations in which traffic is moving slowly and motorcyclists are trying to get through the traffic jam at a slightly higher rate of speed.

In this case, however, the California Highway Patrol reported that a motorcyclist was splitting lanes while traveling quite fast on Highway 101, despite the fact that the traffic around him was moving very slowly. As a result, the motorcyclist rear-ended another vehicle, resulting in him being thrown from the motorcycle. Tragically, the motorcyclist was killed in the collision.

Such situations should raise questions about whether the proposed lane-splitting legislation could improve safety on our roads. The bill would require motorcyclists who are lane splitting to travel no more than 15 mph above the speed of the traffic around them. In addition, it would prohibit motorcyclists from lane splitting if they are riding at over 50 mph.

While the legislation has not yet passed, motorcyclists should take care to avoid high rates of speed when lane splitting in California. In addition, whenever a motorcyclist is injured or killed in a collision, it is a good idea to seek the counsel of a skilled personal injury attorney.


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