Motorcycle Lane Splitting – Not Illegal – CHP Guidelines

Contrary to the beliefs of many people in California, it is not illegal for motorcycles to lane split, meaning to pass between cars in adjoining lanes of a roadway. According to the Los Angeles Times, a survey found that 78% of motorcyclists admit to lane splitting. In order to help prevent California motorcycle accidents, the CHP has issued guidelines for motorcycle riders to follow when lane splitting.

First, the most important thing is that any lane splitting be done safely. Then, when lane splitting, the motorcyclist should not exceed 10 miles per hour over the speed of the traffic he or she is passing. Next, when traffic is flowing at more than 30 miles per hour, the motorcyclist should not split lanes. Finally, the motorcyclist should use the area between lane number 1 and lane number 2 when splitting lanes.

It is important to note that the above guidelines are not the law. Motorcyclists may get a ticket if they are deemed to be driving recklessly, even though they are following the CHP guidelines. Steve Guderian, of ABATE, the American Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education, argues that lane splitting should be called “lane sharing” and when driving in traffic, a lane splitting motorcyclist is actually less likely to get into a California motorcycle accident, by a rate of over two to one, compared to vehicles that are not lane splitting.


Guderian says that when lane sharing, the motorcyclist has better vision and is less likely to be rear ended by a vehicle. Unfortunately, two-thirds of motorcyclists say they have had a vehicle try to block them when they are lane splitting. This can lead to very serious California motorcycle accident injuries. Sargent Mark Pope of the CHP adds that motorcycles are often perceived as the enemy, due to their loud pipes. This is often what witnesses to accidents will remember.

Our Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers represent many motorcyclists who are accused of being at fault in their motorcycle collisions with vehicles. One motorcyclist client was struck by a vehicle that made a left turn in front of him. The police and the insurance company for the car blamed our client because a witness said our client was speeding. Often wrongly, due to their noise, many witnesses often mistakenly believe the motorcycle is speeding.

Another client was in a Los Angeles motorcycle freeway accident when lane splitting. The vehicle in front of him to his right, without looking to make sure it was safe, attempted to change lanes directly in front of our client, thereby blocking his motorcycle and causing the collision. The CHP and insurance company for the vehicle both blamed our client, arguing that our client was lane splitting at over 15 miles per hour above the rate of traffic.

These are the types of claims our Los Angeles motorcycle injury lawyers handle, as we strive to protect motorcyclists who are struck by negligent drivers. If you are seriously injured in a Los Angeles motorcycle crash, even if the police and insurance company blame you, please call our office for a free consultation with a Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer. Just because an insurance company blames you for causing the accident, does not mean that you were at fault and you may still be entitled to a financial recovery for your medical bills, pain, suffering, loss of earnings and other damages.

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