What are the Facts about Lane-Splitting?

If you have ever driven along a busy highway or interstate, you have probably seen a motorcyclist maneuver his or her bike between cars. This is called lane-splitting, and is generally considered to be a “no no”. But aside from the general consensus that lane-splitting is a bad idea, what are the actual facts about lane-splitting in California?

In 2014, 80 percent of motorcyclists in California reported lane-splitting. Over 50 percent of those reported lane-splitting “often”. With so many motorcyclists participating in the behavior, we find it important to review the facts so that drivers of any type of vehicle know what the law says, and how to stay safe.

Facts about Lane-Splitting in California

  1. In California, lane-splitting is legal. Motorcyclists still must obey traffic laws and speed limits, but lane-splitting itself is legal.
  2. In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 51, which defined lane-splitting and provided the California Highway Patrol with more power to develop guidelines that would help drivers stay safe.
  3. According to the American Motorcyclist Association, lane-splitting is prohibited in all states except for California.
  4. At least nine states have considered laws similar to what California has implemented relating to lane-splitting.
  5. Lane-splitting in California goes back at least as far as the 1960’s, when congestion became a more serious problem and motorcyclists used lane-splitting to avoid traffic.
  6. There is little data about lane-splitting and just how safe or dangerous it is. In 2015, the Safe Transportation Research & Education Center at UC Berkeley reported that 17 percent of the 6,000 motorcycle accidents reviewed involved lane-splitting.
  7. Motorcyclists report lane-splitting for two primary reasons – safety and speed. Lane-splitting allows motorcyclists to maneuver through traffic, which could improve congestion.
  8. In 2014, research showed that 60 percent of drivers did not approve of lane-splitting. The primary reason being their belief that the practice was unsafe.