Motorcycle Lane Splitting May Be Legalized Soon
I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove Motorcycle Accident Lawyer. Motorcycle lane splitting has long been a part of Elk Grove and northern California life. As the freeways and roadways become congested with early morning and late afternoon rush hour traffic, Elk Grove motorcyclists seek to avoid traffic by practicing what is known as lane splitting. When engaging in lane splitting, a biker passes cars by driving in between lanes. Bikers use this method to pass slower cars or to completely bypass traffic.
California Highway Patrol
Though lane splitting has existed in California for ages, it is not officially legal. The California Highway Patrol turns a blind eye to lane splitters, and in fact, many state troopers engage in the act when on motorcycle. Bikers are not stopped when lane splitting because there is no law on the books yet regarding the practice; it is in a legal grey area.
The California State Assembly is currently working on a bill that will officially legalize lane splitting for motorcyclists. The bill, in its current form, would permit bikers to pass cars going 15 MPH quicker than the current rate of traffic, up to a maximum of 50 MPH. The bill is controversial among both bikers and oppositional groups.
Motorcyclists support legalization
Motorcyclists support legalizing lane splitting. However, they object to the restrictions placed on lane splitting. First, the bill is designed to address severe congestion situations in which traffic slows to a crawl. However, often times, cars are going faster than 50 MPH but slower than the rate of the motorcycle. Lane splitting has traditionally allowed the biker to drive in between lanes at a high rate of speed to pass the car, but this new bill would prohibit that. In addition, bikers object to the 15 MPH limitation.
Opposition to Lane Splitting
Oppositional groups like Thomas Freeman, the owner of stoplanesplitting.com, believes that lane splitting is dangerous to both motorcyclists and drivers. Those who oppose the bill are putting extreme pressure on lawmakers to reject it.
However, studies have shown that lane splitting is the safest option for motorcyclists trapped in Elk Grove’s legendary traffic. One option is to force bikers to stop behind cars when traffic slows, but research has shown that this leads to an increased number of severe and sometimes deadly rear-end crashes. The other option is to permit lane splitting. The Assembly hopes to increase safety by allowing lane splitting but encouraging cautious use by placing restrictions on when and how it can be implemented.
Though the Assembly was expected to pass the bill, strong outcry from both sides has caused Quirk and Lackey, the Representatives who authored the bill, to table it until they get more input from various parties. As of now, bikers would rather have no law as the current practice of allowing any form of lane splitting is preferred to a restricted permission, whereas those who oppose lane splitting in general are trying to influence lawmakers to completely abandon the project and instead ban lane splitting. According to a recent UC Berkeley study, one out of every six motorcycle accidents involves lane splitting.
Law Offices of Edward A. Smith
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury during a motorcycle accident in Elk Grove, call me now at (916) 694-0002. If you are outside the Elk Grove area, you can call me at (800) 404-5400 toll-free for fast, friendly advice now.
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