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Lane splitting tips for California motorcyclists


October 10, 2018

Lane splitting is a privilege enjoyed by California motorcyclists. With this freedom comes a greater responsibility for motorcyclists and drivers to share the road and create a safer highway environment. In 2016, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed California Assembly Bill 51, which defined motorcycle lane splitting and authorized the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop educational safety tips.

Through a deliberative process and in consultation with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Department of Transportation, the Office of Traffic Safety, and several motorcycle safety organizations, the CHP has finalized lane splitting tips.

“Although lane splitting is legal in California, motorcyclists are encouraged to exercise extreme caution when traveling between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic,” said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley. “Every rider has the ultimate responsibility for their own decision making and safety.”

These general safety tips are provided to assist you when riding; however, they are not guaranteed to keep you safe:

  • Consider the total environment when you are lane splitting (this includes the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles, as well as current roadway, weather, and lighting conditions).

  • Danger increases at greater speed differentials.

  • Danger increases as overall speed increases.

  • It is typically safer to split between the far-left lanes than between the other lanes of traffic.

  • Try to avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles (big rigs, buses, motorhomes, etc.).

  • Riding on the shoulder is illegal; it is not considered lane splitting.

  • Be visible – Avoid remaining in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.

  • Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored/reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight hours.

Motorists can also do their part by sharing the road. Many motorcycle collisions are caused when other motorists simply do not see the motorcyclist. Check your mirrors and blind spots frequently, especially before changing lanes or making a turn. Be alert and courteous while sharing the road.



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