Does lane splitting cause motorcycle crashes?

As motorcyclists know, California is the only state in the U.S. that allows lane splitting. Or, technically, the state has not banned it, leaving lane splitting in something of a legal limbo.

Everyone who has ever driven on a California highway has seen lane splitting, but for those who have not: lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between lanes on four-wheel vehicle traffic. This allows riders to get to their destination sooner.

Lane splitting is controversial, with some people convinced that it causes motorcycle crashes. However, the San Jose Mercury News recently reported, a study by the University of California - Berkeley seemed to disprove this claim.

Researchers examined reports of 5,969 California motorcycle wrecks that occurred in a single year. Just under 1,000 of these involved a rider who was lane-splitting.

After studying the circumstances of each of these crashes, the Berkley researchers concluded that lane splitting causes no special danger, as long as the rider is going as fast or slightly faster than surrounding traffic. In fact, at 50 mph or slower, riders were less likely to get seriously hurt if they split lanes instead of staying in a lane.

Last year, a state Assemblyman introduced a bill to formally legalize and regulate lane splitting failed to pass. Still, the practice remains common in California.

Many non-riders assume that it is the rider’s fault every time a car or truck collides with a motorcycle. But many such wrecks are caused by a careless or reckless motorist, with the rider almost always getting the worst of the wreck. As the rider recovers, he or she will need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help him or her recover damages.

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