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Lane splitting is legal. What does this mean for motorists?

In the last year, both in the news and on our blog, the topic of lane splitting has been a feature of conversation, which has led to a myriad of questions, including some concerning the safety of such a practice.

While some still contend that lane splitting is not as safe as experts claim it to be, their opposition appears to have fallen on deaf ears with the California Assembly who officially passed AB 51 recently in a 69-0 vote. The bill is now on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, awaiting his signature.

Although we may have to wait months or even years before we can answer the question, "Does lane splitting really reduce the number of motorcycle accidents in our state?," there is one question we may be able to answer in the meantime:

What should motorcyclists and drivers do now that lane splitting is legal?

The most important -- and perhaps the most obvious -- thing drivers and motorcyclists can do is be more aware of their actions while operating their respective motor vehicle.

Many motorcycle accidents are the direct result of one motorist not paying attention to their surroundings before changing lanes or pulling into traffic. This happens with motorcyclists and drivers alike, but the outcome is oftentimes the same: an accident occurs.

With the passage of AB 51, more motorcyclists could choose to lane split now more than ever, which means we could see an increase in the number of motorcyclists "riding the line" between relieving traffic congestion and putting their lives at risk of serious or fatal injuries.

Although the hope is that lane splitting will reduce the number of accidents, the possible increase in the number of riders who choose to lane split means a greater chance for a collision unless we all take the time to check our surroundings while driving.

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