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California legalizes lane splitting for motorcyclists

In a country where the vast majority of motorists travel within the relative safety of an enclosed vehicle, motorcyclists are regularly at greater risk than other motorists for injury in any kind of collision. As more people crowd our streets and freeways, and greater numbers of them choose to ride motorcycles, it is reasonable that legislation would grow to accommodate the safety of our motorcycling public. California is once again leading the charge of progressive (and somewhat controversial) legislation to address the safety of motorcyclists by passing a statewide law officially legalizing the practice of lane splitting.

Lane splitting is one of those practices that those who do not ride motorcycles often find frustrating, while they sit stuck in traffic only to see a motorcyclist zip on past them, riding between the seemingly endless streams of cars parked on an interstate.

"They should have to wait in line like everyone else!" One can easily imagine this knee-jerk reaction from many automobile drivers. However, the move to formally legalize lane splitting is not, in fact, some concession by the state legislature to the awesome lobbying power of the Hells Angels. Rather, it is based on recent studies which concluded that allowing motorcyclists the freedom to split lanes actually significantly reduces the likelihood that they will be injured.

One of the most vulnerable positions for a motorcyclist is being stuck between a vehicle which has slowed or stopped and another coming up quickly from behind. This often leads to the motorcyclist being rear-ended, which is exceptionally dangerous. While it may be annoying to the average motorist stuck in traffic, it is statistically safer for everyone to allow motorcyclists this exception.

While the new lane splitting law will hopefully reduce the number of motorcycle injuries and fatalities, the sad truth is that no legislation can completely do away with all risks. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can confidently explore your options for recovery.

Source: American Motorcyclist Association, "Lane Splitting," accessed Nov. 11, 2016

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