You’ve Just Been Regulated! California To Allow CHP To Create Guidelines for Motorcycle Lane Splitting.

I’m sure you’ve been there, on the freeway, 4 or 5 lanes going one-way and no one’s moving or barely moving, and through the gap between lanes a motorcycle comes whizzing on by, probably scaring the heck out of you. This practice, called, lane splitting for years was this sort of muddling practice by motorcyclists. It wasn’t legal or illegal, but it was an allowed practice. It was also however poorly defined by the state.

That changed when the California Assembly voted 74-0 to approve AB 51 which defines lane splitting as “driving a motorcycle that has two wheels in contact with the ground between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane.” and authorized the California Highway Patrol to establish guidelines for the greater safety of motorcyclists as well as passengers and drivers.

An article over at Motorcycle & Powersports News cites studies by UC Berkley which find lane-splitting cyclists were less likely to be rear ended as well as much less likely to suffer major head or torso injuries including fatal ones in a crash. Studies also show no major uptick in injuries until overall traffic speeds exceed 50 miles per hour. Injury rates also did not see an increase until the speed differences between the lane splitting cyclists and the rest of traffic reached 15 MPH. This basically means lane splitting in ideal highway conditions in which traffic is flowing fast can cause greater injury but at the same time, since lane splitting is really meant to occur when traffic is not flowing well at lowers speeds, it should be less of a concern. Basically if you’re lane splitting and doing 80 to traffic’s 65 MPH, why are you lane splitting at all?[Hint: you’re also breaking the law and speeding at that point]

And this is why California CHP is likely to receive the power to regulate lane splitting. To establish clear cut rules and regulations on the books as to when lane splitting may occur. Previously, CHP had tried to establish guidelines but those policies were tossed out when a lawsuit alleged CHP had no power to make laws. AB51 changes that. The law is very careful to see lane splitters are going no more than 15 MPH faster than the rest of traffic and cannot lane split at speeds past 50 MPH. Essentially the law kicks in right at intervals where accidents would begin to occur as cited in the above studies.

And that will save lives.

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