How Will New California Motorcycle Laws Affect Accidents and Fatalities?

How Will New California Motorcycle Laws Affect Accidents and Fatalities?

On August 4th, California state assembly members passed a bill that will give the highway patrol power to create guidelines to legalize lane splitting for motorcyclists. This will make California the first state in the country to do so. While the bill did pass the state assembly, it must still be signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Supporters of the bill, which passed the assembly unanimously, say that it will reduce traffic and will increase safety.

Do you know what lane splitting is?

Whether you know the name for it or not, you likely know what lane splitting is. In simple terms, it refers to motorcycle riders passing vehicles by riding between them, typically on the lane line. It’s been a very hot issue in California because it hasn’t been legal but it hasn’t been officially illegal either. As a result, law enforcement has been treating it as though it’s acceptable.

In fact, last year the California Highway Patrol published a list of safety tips on their website, and one of them involved lane splitting. One angry citizen complained that the CHP shouldn’t have done so because they were effectively making policy – which is the job of lawmakers, not police. As a result, the lane splitting bill was introduced.

The evolution of a bill

When the bill was initially introduced, it stated that lane splitting would be legal when a motorcycle was traveling no more than 15 miles per hour faster than the traffic it was passing. It further stated that lane splitting was illegal at speeds faster than 50 miles per hour. Motorcycle groups didn’t like that version because they felt the speed limit wasn’t high enough and people opposed to splitting said it’s always dangerous and didn’t want it legalized. The revised bill took out all language referring to specific speeds and just defines the world “lane.” The rest is up to the CHP to determine.

How to split lanes as safely as possible

The CHP offered some tips to split as safely as possible:

  • Don’t travel more than 10 miles faster than the traffic around you. The faster you drive, the more dangerous it is.
  • Don’t split lanes if traffic is traveling faster than 30 miles per hour.
  • It’s safer to split between lanes one and two than to split between other lanes.
  • Before splitting, consider everything including how wide the lanes are, how big the vehicles are, the condition of the roadway, the weather, and the light conditions.
  • Pay attention to other motorists and try to anticipate their movements.

Of course, motorists must do their part too. They need to keep an eye out for motorcyclists before they change lanes. Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas hopes that these laws make California roads safer for both motorcyclists and other drivers but we also wonder how our past clients will feel about it. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident or a car accident, get a free consultation with us today by calling 909-982-0707.

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