Unlike most of the country, lane splitting is legal in California. Where accidents occur involving lane splitting, the question of negligence may be complex. People injured in lane splitting accidents in Los Angeles and Southern California trust The Law Offices of Mauro Fiore, Jr. to represent them fully and fight to make sure the proper negligent parties are held accountable for their actions.
What is lane splitting?
Lane splitting, also known as lane sharing or white-lining, refers to the practice of a motorcycle passing other vehicles by driving in their lane or between lanes on the white line. It is illegal in most of the United States, and is either explicitly outlawed or impliedly prohibited by various traffic laws. In California, however, this is expressly allowed, as long as it is done in a safe and prudent manner.
The California Driver Handbook distinguishes between lane sharing and splitting, although both are legal. The Handbook recommends to automobiles not to share lanes with motorcycles, and states that “although it is not illegal to share lanes with motorcycles, it is unsafe.” The Handbook further defines lane splitting as motorcycles driving “in the unused space between two lines of moving or stationary vehicles” during congested road conditions; the Handbook also refers to this practice as legal. Automobile drivers are admonished to be aware of lane splitting and to look carefully for motorcyclists before opening doors next to moving traffic.
Safe and Prudent Manner
As noted earlier, the California Highway Patrol states that lane sharing or splitting is permissible if it is done in a “safe and prudent manner.” This phrase is not defined any further. What constitutes safe and prudent lane splitting will be a question of fact depending upon the surrounding circumstances in a particular case. In nearly every instance, one could assume that safe and prudent splitting in slow-moving or stopped traffic would involve doing so slowly and not at regular highway speed. The police officer issuing a citation or preparing a report at the accident scene will usually be the initial determinant of whether lane splitting accidents was conducted in a safe and prudent manner. However, the officer’s determination is not incontrovertible. At trial, it will be up to the jury to decide the question of whether lane splitting was proper in a given instance.
To Split or Not to Split
Lane splitting accidents are controversial because it is viewed by many as potentially dangerous to the cyclist as well as damaging to automobiles. Some motorcyclists claim that sitting in traffic on a slow or congested highway is dangerous to the biker who runs a risk of being rear-ended by an inattentive driver. Both points probably have some validity. The fact is that motorcyclists and automobiles must always be aware of and respectful of each other, and when a person drives or rides negligently and causes an accident, the injured victim is entitled to hold the other person accountable for that negligence and recover for the injuries and damages caused.