Yes, motorcyclists can weave in and out of lanes in California. AB-51, the state’s pro-lane splitting bill, took effect in January 2017. Lane splitting involves a motorcyclist driving between two lanes of slowly moving vehicles or completely stopped vehicles, commonly during traffic jams.
However, it’s vital to note that in an accident involving a lane-splitting motorcyclist, it will usually be up to the responding officer to determine whether the rider’s behavior while lane splitting was sensible and safe or dangerous and reckless.
Staying Safe While Lane Splitting
Your best defense against crashes when lane splitting is doing it safely and responsibly by keeping these safety guidelines in mind:
- Stay alert and aware of all the other vehicles around you.
- Wear your helmet, reflective clothing, and other safety gear when riding.
- Ride with the headlights on.
- Be extra careful when riding in a vehicle’s blind spot.
- Always enter the area where you want to lane split carefully. This means waiting until both lanes of vehicles have stopped or slowed to comparable speeds. Remember that vehicles are more likely to switch lanes abruptly if one of the lanes is moving faster than the other, and you may get hit when this happens.
- Check for signs that a vehicle is about to change lanes, like a driver looking into the side or rearview mirrors.
- Ride slightly faster than the traffic flow but never zoom by vehicles that are stopped or slowly moving.
- Go back to your lane when traffic flow reaches about 30 miles per hour.
- Honk if the vehicles are closing together and wait until there’s sufficient space to pass between them.
- Watch out for slippery, wet, lumpy, or bumpy roadways, as these can easily make maneuvering your motorcycle more difficult.
- Never lane share when it’s dark because it could confuse other motorists into thinking that you’re in a standard four-wheeled vehicle instead of a motorcycle.
Determining Liability in Lane Splitting Accidents
Lane splitting accidents usually occur because of the nearness of the vehicles to the motorcyclist, the decreased space to maneuver safely, and because not all drivers expect other vehicles to pass them in stopped or slowed traffic.
Unfortunately, if a crash involving lane splitting occurs, the chances are that the motorcyclist will be blamed for causing the crash. If the insurance provider or the court determines that the motorcyclist’s recklessness caused the crash or contributed significantly to the crash, the motorcyclist will have difficulty recovering compensation for their losses.
But if the motorcyclist can show that the other driver caused the crash, the motorcyclist can recover full or partial compensation for their damages. For example, the driver that hit the motorcyclist was weaving or changing lanes abruptly, or if they were using their cell phone or distracted for some other reason.
Talk to a Skilled Ventura Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Now
Whether you were riding your motorcycle and another vehicle struck you, or vice versa, the Ventura motorcycle accident lawyer of Bamieh & De Smeth can help. To arrange your free case evaluation, call 805-643-5555 or reach us online.