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Lane-splitting doesn't mean you deserve to be hit

One of the benefits of riding a motorcycle is that its smaller profile allows you to maneuver in ways that a passenger or commercial vehicle can't. You can move through traffic more easily, allowing you to ride between the lanes, referred to as lane splitting.

Just because you drive between lanes of traffic, it doesn't mean that you deserve to be cut off or sideswiped by car drivers or that you are at fault for an accident. The primary reason for this is that it is legal for you to lane split in California. That doesn't mean that it is safe, but you can do it without legal repercussions.

Here's some other things you need to know

The California Highway Patrol issues some guidelines regarding lane splitting in an attempt to help you do it safely. After the obligatory warning that it could be dangerous, and even deadly, the CHP warns that only experienced riders should engage in this activity. Thereafter, it offers the following advice to motorcycle riders:

  • Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles such as buses, trucks, motor homes and the like.
  • The danger you face increases as speeds and speed differentials rise.
  • The safest place to engage in lane splitting is in the far-left lanes where vehicles are not entering and exiting the roadway.
  • Take the width of the road into consideration, along with other factors, such as the weather, the traffic pattern and the condition of the roadway, before lane splitting.
  • Lane splitting does not involve riding on the shoulder. Doing so is illegal.
  • Try to stay out of the blind spots of the vehicles you travel with on the road.
  • Use your high beams during the day and wear bright colors or reflective material to help other drivers see you.

The CHP also warns other motor vehicle drivers regarding the following:

  • It is illegal to block a motorcycle that is lane splitting, especially if it could cause an accident and injuries.
  • Lane splitting is legal. If an accident occurs, the motorcycle rider will not be at fault just for engaging in this legal activity.
  • Drivers who open their car doors in order to impede or stop a motorcyclist from lane splitting are breaking the law.
  • Drivers in the far-left lane should move over as much as possible to allow you to pass.

These warnings leave the impression that non-motorcycle riders think they can risk harming you when you engage in lane splitting. If you do become the victim of another driver's reckless or negligent behavior while exercising your legal right, you could pursue the compensation you deserve to help with the financial and other losses suffered because of an accident you believe the other party caused.

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