Riding a motorcycle is a great way to get around in California. You save money on gas and you get to enjoy the outdoors while traveling to your destination. Unfortunately, other motorists are not always as aware of motorcyclists on the road as they should be.
In 2012 alone, 415 motorcyclists were killed in collisions with motor vehicles in California, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In all, almost 5,000 motorcyclists died in collisions across the country that year - up 7 percent from the year before.
In an effort to increase efficiency for motorcyclists and perhaps even save lives, the California legislature is considering a bill that would officially allow motorcyclists to ride in between lanes of traffic - known as lane-splitting.
The bill was passed by the Assembly and it is now before the Senate for consideration. AB51 would allow motorcyclists to drive in between lanes of traffic that have stopped or slowed down. The law prohibits motorcyclists from passing at 15 mph over the speed of traffic. In addition, they are not allowed to pass if traveling over 50 mph.
This will not be a new phenomenon for motorcyclists or other drivers on our roads. The California Highway Patrol used to provide safety guidelines on its website for lane-splitting motorcyclists. Although there was no law specifically allowing the practice, there was also no law prohibiting lane-splitting. As a result, the CHP determined it was permissible.
Proponents of the bill contend that it will reduce traffic and therefore make our roads safer. The likelihood of a motorcyclist being hit from behind by another vehicle may actually be less when they are lane-splitting. Some opponents of the bill have spoken out, stating that the limitations in the bill are too severe.
Of course, when a motorcycle accident takes place, the motorcyclist is typically the person who suffers the most serious injuries. When another motorist causes a collision with a motorcyclist, the injured party should talk to an attorney to help make sure he or she is not financially on the hook for the damage caused in the crash.