Lane Splitting May Not be Negligent in California

nabeel-syed-2856-copy-300x200If you were part of an auto accident while riding your motorcycle, you likely have to deal with a contributory negligence claim during your personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. Due to negative stereotypes regarding motorcycle riders and an insurer’s constant fight to protect its bottom line, the insurer or other driver may allege that you were partially at fault for the accident. They may even claim that you were more responsible for the accident than the other driver. This is particularly common if there was any evidence that you were lane splitting. However, in California, lane splitting is legal and therefore, not inherently negligent.

If you were in accident while lane splitting, contact our experienced San Francisco personal injury lawyers from Brod Law Firm at (800) 427-7020.

California Law on Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is when a motorcycle or bicycle rides between lanes or rows of vehicles that are moving slowly or stopped. Motorcyclists may do this for convenience. However, it is often for their safety. When the rider is between vehicles, they are less likely to be rear-ended or struck from the side. Riding on the lines can also help them avoid hiding in blind spots, which increases the risk of a vehicle changing lanes into them.

In 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill defining and allowing lane splitting. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2017 and now, California Vehicle Code §21658.1 formally defines lane splitting as “driving a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”

The bill also gave the California Highway Patrol (CHP) the power to create guidelines for this practice. The CHP published lane splitting general guidelines as part of its California Motorcyclist Safety Program. These guidelines state:

  • When motorcyclists lane split, they should not travel at a speed no more than 10 mph faster than the other traffic.
  • Motorcyclists should not lane split when traffic is moving at 30 mph or faster.
  • It is typically safer to lane split between lanes one and two (the furthest left lanes) than others.
  • Motorcyclists should consider a number of factors before lane splitting, including the width of the lanes, the roadway, the size of other vehicles on the road, the weather, and lighting.
  • Motorcyclists should be alert and anticipate other motorists’ maneuvers.

Lane Splitting During Personal Injury Cases

Prior to these guidelines, it was common for motorists to claim that a motorcycle lane splitting was negligent and contributed to an accident or injuries. However, now the law is clearer regarding lane splitting. Not only is it legal, but there are scenarios in which it is considered safe and not negligent.

If you are a motorcyclist who was hurt in an accident caused by a vehicle, these CHP guidelines may help your case. If you can show your actions were within the guidelines, then the at-fault motorist has little evidence of contributory negligence, which could decrease or bar your financial recovery. However, these guidelines could also hinder your claim. If you were lane splitting outside of these guidelines, the other motorist may be able to argue that your actions were careless or reckless.

Contact Our San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you were injured in an accident while lane splitting on your motorcycle, contact us at Brod Law Firm as soon as possible at (800) 427-7020. We will conduct an in-depth investigation into your accident to determine your legal options. We will also gather evidence on your behalf to prove your actions were reasonable and within the law.

(image courtesy of Nabeel Syed)