When it comes to motorcycles and lane splitting in California, many drivers are quickly irritated if not outright angry when a biker weaves through traffic. While a good bit of this impatience stems from the simple legality of the behavior, there is the overwhelming question of safety. How safe can lane splitting truly be when a rider comes within inches of your car door or mirror? It turns out that lane splitting is much safer than any cranky driver would have ever anticipated.
A recent study, conducted by UC Berkeley revealed that lane splitting is actually safer for both motorcyclists and drivers than a bike sitting idle in bumper-to-bumper traffic. As reported by the LA Times, the comprehensive review utilized data from over 6,000 reported motorcycle accidents by the California Highway Patrol, and concluded that accidents that occur during lane splitting actually are far less damaging than those that occur when a cycle is at rest.
Researchers believe the reason lies in the “speed differential” found during the process of lane splitting. Thomas Rice of the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, and one of the researchers in the lane splitting study, said, “We found that motorcycle speed differential is a stronger predictor of injury than was the overall traffic speed.”
Of course, this report was welcome news by state lawmakers, who are pushing for legislation that would make California the first state to legalize lane splitting. Assembly Bill 51 would grant motorcycle riders the ability to split lanes at approximately 15 mph in gridlock and up to a maximum of 50 mph in free-flowing traffic.
Despite a significant amount of protest and dire predictions, Assembly Bill 51 has moved onto the Senate, which is expected to approve of the measure. Of course, until then lane splitting remains a quasi-legal practice at best and can create all sorts of trouble for commuters should there be an accident. If you have any questions concerning lane splitting or motorcycle crashes in the greater Sacramento area, contact Demas Law Group, P.C., today.