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Lane Splitting: California Pushes for Solidified Guidelines


motorcycle rider lanesplitting on LA highway On Thursday, August 25, California state assembly members passed a bill that formally cites laws for lane-splitting—a practice that until now had a wavering set of rules. Generally, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) had jurisdiction concerning lane splitting among motorcyclists. This meant that if the CHP believed that a particular individual was practicing the maneuver in an unsafe manner, reasonable consequences were enforced.

However, this bill—which passed unanimously—hopes to improve safety conditions and reduce traffic congestion. Assembly member Bill Quirk, who sponsored the bill, stated that his utmost concern was roadway safety.

Although the attorneys at Nadrich & Cohen, LLP understand that accidents are not completely avoidable, they support safety measures that will decrease the amount of injuries and deaths due to the negligence of other drivers.

Current lane splitting laws

Lane splitting is technically neither legal nor illegal, and lies in a gray area, usually determined by local law enforcement. Overall, the maneuver is usually frowned upon in most states, regardless of the fact that there isn’t a specific law in place to abolish the practice. In California, motorcyclists are permitted to lane split if the driver does so in a safe manner, but that wording proves to be problematic, since safety can be interpreted differently from person-to-person.

Due to this discrepancy, Quirk’s original draft of the bill contained two explicit rules: motorcyclists could legally lane split if their moving speed was no faster than 15 miles per hour more than the surrounding vehicles, and the practice was prohibited in areas where the speed limit was greater than 50 miles per hour. That proposal proved unpopular, and in the revised bill, the definition of a driving “lane” was clarified, and failure to maintain in said “lane” should be corrected by the CHP. These changes created the necessary support required to move the bill through the legislative process quickly.

Lane splitting liability

Since a definitive law is not in place yet, determining liability for a lane splitting accident can be difficult. In many cases, the motorcyclist is to blame and an insurance company is likely to side with the opposing driver. However, if the motorcyclist can prove that the driver who struck them was negligent or careless, the motorcycle driver has a greater chance of winning the case.

For example, if the driver of the car is found to have been distracted by a phone or other electronic device at the time of the crash, the motorcyclist could be entitled to compensation. The same verdict might be reached if the driver changed lanes suddenly or was seen weaving in and out of traffic.

Advice from motorcycle accident lawyers

After a tragic accident, your family will require support, dedication, and justice. The experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at Nadrich & Cohen, LLP can provide you with a free case review and explain what your rights and options are for litigation.

If you choose to pursue legal action, our veteran attorneys will fight ceaselessly for compensation. We look forward to serving clients in the greater Los Angeles area; call us today at (310) 826-8082.

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