Lane splitting by motorcyclists is legal in the state of California. The question is, is lane splitting a safe practice for both riders and their fellow motorists?

Before getting into whether or not lane splitting is a safe practice for motorcyclists, it’s first necessary to understand what it is:

    Lane splitting is a traffic maneuver that motorcyclists use to ride between marked lanes, usually in an effort to navigate around slow-moving or bumper-to-bumper traffic. In most US states, the practice is illegal; however, it was recently legalized in California and Texas may soon follow suit.

Whether it’s safe or not is subject to some debate, and there is significant support on both sides of the argument. Regardless of your point of view, motorcyclists who practice lane splitting are – like any other motorist on the road – still at risk for motorcycle accidents.

Advocates Say Lane Splitting is Safe

Is Lane Splitting Safe? One study published by the University of California at Berkeley in May 2015 found that lane splitting poses no increased danger to motorcyclists as compared to a cycle traveling in a marked lane.

The report further stated that motorcycle riders who split lanes are actually less likely to be struck in a rear-end collision, are less likely to suffer head or torso trauma. The incidence of fatal injuries is also reduced.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), an organization dedicated to motorcycle operator and passenger safety, prepared a position statement based upon the UC Berkeley report. The AMA found that lane splitting is one way to reduce a motorcyclist’s exposure to stop-and-go traffic, and the rear-end collisions that often result from it.

Land Splitting Can Be Dangerous

The same UC Berkeley report indicated some statistics that offer support on the other side of the argument. Lane splitters who travel at speeds faster than 10 miles per hour, as compared to surrounding traffic, do stand a greater risk of being involved in an accident.

In addition, motorcyclists who lane split are more likely to be the operator who hits another car from behind when speed is a factor. There is also evidence that lane splitters are more likely to experience an accident during rush hour traffic, demonstrating that the practice is still dangerous under certain circumstances.

Accidents Can Still Occur

There is plenty of support for both sides of the lane splitting issue, but one fact remains: Dangerous, even fatal, accidents do occur – despite the exercise of caution by the rider and other motorists on the road. When they cause injuries to a motorcyclist, the losses can be devastating.

An Experienced Motorcycle Injury Attorney Can Help

If you’ve been injured in any type of motorcycle accident, including one involving lane splitting, you may have rights to compensation for your losses. Despite many arguments that lane splitting is dangerous, there is an equally powerful argument that motorcyclists are using responsible and safe traffic sense. Because of the debate, it’s critical to retain a motorcycle accident lawyer that understands these cases and has experience in fighting for the interests of victims.


This article was contributed by the staff at Sutliff & Stout, a personal injury law firm located at: 550 Post Oak Blvd #530 Houston, TX 77027 713-987-7111.