What Is Lane Splitting?

You’ve likely witnessed lane splitting, whether you’re familiar with the term or not. Lane splitting happens when a person on a motorcycle (or bike) travels between two lanes or rows, usually while traffic has slowed or is stopped. This maneuver is also known as stripe-riding or white lining.

This move might seem great for the biker because it eliminates the need to sit in traffic. In fact, it’s a big reason why many riders opt for a bike in the first place, especially when traveling through busy city streets. 

But what about the rest of the drivers on the road? If you’re wondering whether lane splitting is a safe and legal maneuver, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find answers to all of your pressing questions about lane splitting.

Lane splitting is an illegal maneuver in all states with one notable exception. California is the only state in the US to legalize the maneuver. 

This new standard was established in 2016, although lane splitting was informally allowed in the years prior to the change. 

Lane splitting is permissible in the state as long as the rider follows these guidelines:

  • Not traveling more than 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic
  • Not splitting lanes when traffic is moving at 30 mph or higher
  • Not splitting lanes near freeway exits or on-ramps
  • Never splitting between buses, RVs, or semi-trucks
  • Not splitting on curves or when there are dangerous road conditions

Lane splitting is legal. But is it safe? We’ll take a look at that next.

Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?

Opponents of the new lane splitting law say that the maneuver could make riding more dangerous. However, that opinion is yet to be borne out by traffic statistics in the state. 

While there are more than 5,000 motorcycle deaths each year, it’s difficult to say how lane splitting factors into that figure. 

Of course, ignoring the guidelines above does make lane splitting more dangerous than it needs to be. But as long as the motorcyclist rides at a safe speed and stays aware of their surroundings, lane splitting should be no more dangerous than other types of driving behavior. In fact, some recent studies have even suggested that lane splitting decreases a rider’s risk of getting rear-ended.

How Should Motorists Handle Lane Splitting?

In addition to safety guidelines for motorcyclists, there are similar guidelines that traditional motorists should follow:

  • Never attempt to discourage a motorcyclist from lane splitting
  • Do not block or impede a motorcyclist’s travel
  • Do not open your vehicle’s door while a motorcyclist is traveling past

Surrounding motorists are equally responsible for the safety of the maneuver. Any attempt to interrupt the path of a traveling motorcycle is both dangerous and illegal. 

When Should You Call a Lawyer After a Motorcycle Accident?

Lane splitting is no more dangerous than other traffic behavior. Still, because many drivers are unfamiliar with the maneuver, accidents may occur despite the best efforts of all travelers involved. If you have been in a motorcycle accident, it’s wise to call an attorney right away—especially if lane splitting was the cause.

An attorney will offer you legal guidance and support, whether you caused the accident or were a victim of an unsafe maneuver. A legal professional can make sure you are appropriately represented in your case and able to recover any compensation that you might be owed.