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Legal but Not Safe – Lane Splitting Guidelines in California

Table of Contents

Lane Splitting
By Ashley Amerio

lane-splitting

What Is Lane Splitting?

In most states, you will find that lane splitting – the action of passing between vehicles on a bike or motorcycle – is illegal. Typically, for good reason, as lane splitting can be extremely unsafe for all drivers that are sharing the road. Maneuvering your bike or motorcycle between two cars (that may or may not be moving at any given time) and providing riders with only just inches of space to fit in between is a hazardous task. It is possible that some cars may not be able to see you coming in their mirrors and one incorrect move from any driver on the road can easily cause a catastrophic and life-threatening car accident to occur.

California Lane Splitting Law

In California, however, lane splitting is not against the law. In fact, many riders take advantage of the convenience of lane splitting, whether it is safe or unsafe, simply because in California we are known for our extremely congested roads and twenty-something mile long traffic jams during rush hour traffic. We certainly do not know anyone who would prefer to sit in that familiar rush hour traffic, which is why lane splitting amongst motorcyclists has become the preferred method on the road during these circumstances. Whether you are a patron at lane splitting or just passed your motorcycle licensing test, distracted drivers still exist on the road and the act of lane splitting on your motorcycle can create even more hazardous situations. These simple guidelines previously provided by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) can help motorcyclist perform the action of lane splitting in the safest way possible (please note – these are guidelines suggested by the CHP and are not actual California State laws):

  1. Do not go more than 10 mph faster than the cars you are passing.
  2. If the surrounding cars are going faster than 30 mph, do not split lanes, as doing so at higher speeds creates a higher probability of an accident.
  3. Try to avoid lane splitting if there is another motorcyclist on the road near you doing the same. Cars may try to make room for one rider and will accidentally cut off the other.
  4. Avoid lane splitting on highway entrance on-ramps or exits.
  5. Consider your environment. If the weather is bad, the lanes are too narrow, or the roads are in poor condition, try to avoid lane splitting.
  6. Be completely comfortable and aware of the dimensions of your bike in order to perform the safest lane splitting.
  7. Always anticipate anything that could possibly go wrong and mentally form an escape plan for such situations.


As a biker in California, you do have the right to split lanes if you are comfortable doing so. Ultimately, if you are an experienced rider, you need to make the safest choice for yourself and other people on the road. At Ashley Injury Lawyers, our attorneys work hard to fight for motorcyclists and bicyclists who have been injured in an accident. If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another party, call your Roseville attorneys today at 888-ASHLEY-911, so we can get you the compensation you deserve

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