Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist travels between two lanes of traffic. Bikers typically do this when traffic has come to a complete stop or when it is slow-moving. This gives the biker an advantage over other vehicles because it allows them to move through traffic faster and exit a traffic jam. Lane splitting is one of the most controversial practices regarding motorcycles in California. While proponents of it say that the practice does not contribute to the amount of motorcycle accidents, others say it is extremely dangerous. So, what does California law say about lane splitting?
Lane Splitting Law in California
Many people think that California is the only state in which the law specifically allows for lane splitting. This is not entirely true. While bikers are not usually pulled over or discouraged from lane splitting, there simply is no law on the books that either allows it or prohibits the practice. However, in 2016, Governor Brown passed Assembly Bill 51, which gave the California Highway Patrol the authority to instate lane splitting safety guidelines.
It is important to note that while lane splitting is not illegal in California, a biker may still face other charges while engaging in the practice. For example, a biker may be charged with following too closely, unsafe lane changes, and speeding.
Liability in Lane Splitting Accidents
While there is no concrete data pertaining to the number of accidents caused by lane splitting, it is true that an accident can occur when a biker is engaged in this practice, just as this possibility holds true any time a vehicle is on the road. The question after any type of accident is always which party was at fault for the crash. After a lane splitting accident, this is much less clear than it is after other types of crashes.
Police reports are often relied on to determine fault after any type of crash, but these are sometimes inaccurate after a lane splitting accident. Law enforcement is sometimes biased against the biker, or they simply misunderstand the evidence and blame the wrong person.
It is also always possible that both the biker and a driver hold some share of fault for the crash. This is important because California is a pure comparative fault state. That means that accident victims can still file a claim for damages even when they were 99% at fault for the crash. It also means that the driver who held most of the fault for the crash typically tries to blame the other party to reduce the amount of compensation he or she is liable for paying. This is why it is so crucial that bikers speak to a lawyer after a crash. A motorcycle accident attorney can help counteract the bias of juries and insurance companies and help bikers claim the full amount of compensation they deserve.
Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in California are Here to Help
If you are a biker who was involved in a crash, regardless of whether or not you were lane splitting at the time, our California motorcycle accident lawyers are here to help. At Willoughby Brod, LLP, we understand the challenges bikers face when making a claim for compensation, and we can help you overcome them. Call us today at (800) 427-7020 or contact us online to arrange a free case evaluation.