California Study says Motorcycle Lane Splitting is Safe


Motorcycle Lane Splitting
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Lane splitting is a touchy subject. California has more than 800,000 registered motorcycles and is the only American state that allows motorcyclists to split traffic, but is still an optional maneuver for them. Its accepted in many other parts of the world, and recent research claims that lane splitting is in fact safer than sitting in traffic acting like a car.

The main argument against lane splitting is that, in mostly driver’s eyes, it seems dangerous. Motorcyclists will tell you differently. A rear-ender is the most common type of accident on the road which makes up for 40% of all accidents in the United States. These accidents could be minor bumps causing nothing more than chipped paint, but there’s nothing minor if someone slams into the back of a motorcycle. Lane splitting lets motorcyclists avoid stopped or slow traffic and allows them to protect themselves from other road vehicles.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting

A study commissioned by the California Highway Patrol was conducted by the University of California at Berkeley between June 2012 and August 2013. 7836 motorcycle crashes were closely examined, and 1163 of them occurred while the rider was lane splitting. Riders who were lane splitting at the time of their crash, were less likely to be injured than those who weren’t. The reason for this could be that the lane splitting accidents happened at speeds between 1 to 30 mph. There were 45% less head injuries, 21% less neck injuries, 32% less torso injuries, 12% less arm or leg injuries and 55% less fatalities. The data shows the safest way to lane split is to ride at speeds of less than 30 mph, and less than 10 mph above the speed of the surrounding traffic. When these conditions are not followed, the injury rate in all categories rises. The report also shows that lane splitters were less likely to get rear-ended by another vehicle, but more likely to rear-end another vehicle.

What do you think about lane splitting? Do you think they should make it legal in your State/Province? Hopefully this study will improve the chances of it being allowed for us non-Californians one day.

  • http://www.robgadv.com/ RobG

    It should be legal nationwide. It makes it safer for motorcyclists in so many ways… one way that isn’t publicized much is that it makes car drivers more aware of motorcycles, and teaches them to use their side mirrors more. They become more alert, and in the end, an alert motorist is a safer one.

  • bobD

    i think lane splitting definitely should NOT be legal. it just seems to me way too likely that a car will change lanes just as i’m passing them and side swipe me. (sorry, robG, i highly doubt that car drivers would learn to use their mirrors as a result of lane splitting being legal. i think that’s naive.)

    in the end, to me it’s a ‘live and let die’ thing… even if they make it legal, there’s NO WAY i would lane split. my life and safety is worth more than saving a few minutes on a ride.

    • Simon

      Its a matter of habit, in california people are aware of line splitting and they do use their mirrors from what ive seen. They even make sure they leave room for motorcycles in traffic hours.

      As for lane splitting i find it quite safe, as long as you keep a low speed differential. You really have to try it to make your own idea but in my opinion its never as dangerous as some people seem to think.

      • bobD

        well the discussion, i thought, was should it become legal in other states or nationwide. in those states where it is not currently legal, the drivers definitely do not have a habit of watching for motorcycles between lanes, and wouldnt be accustomed to giving us a wide berth or looking for us. so that’s when it’s dangerous imho.

        but again, to each their own. if it becomes legal in my state, i dont HAVE to lane split and i surely wont. personal preference

  • Okc Dave

    Absolutely not. The thing is, it DOES NOT MATTER if it’s safer or not. Lanes are there for good reason, to provide a space cushion. Motorcycles should only be allowed to lane split on roads built in the future that have such lanes an additional double the width of an average motorcycle, wider, so that space cushion is preserved.

    No car driver should have to yield a portion of their own lane, period, just as a motorcycle shouldn’t have to be forced to either side of the lane they occupy because a car driver decides they can force the motorcycle out of the way. It’s ludicrous.

    Your lane space is yours alone. Respect that. It’s why lanes exist instead of just blank concrete with chaos ensuing.

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