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New CHP Lane Splitting Guidelines

freeway_at_night_2Early 2013, The California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced new lane splitting guidelines on www.chp.ca.gov. Their list of safety tips is really more specific than “general” as it gives you a technical definition of what lane splitting is, before even getting into lane splitting “best practices”.

As defined by the CHP, “the term lane splitting, sometimes known as lane sharing, filtering or white-lining, refers to the process of a motorcyclist riding between lanes of stopped or slower moving traffic or moving between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a traffic light.”

This practice is not illegal within the State of California, however the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) – a program run by the CHP, strongly suggests that only experienced motorcyclists attempt lane splitting.

According to the CMSP-CHP, drivers should take the following precautions:

  1. Do not travel more than 10MPH faster than other traffic. This allows a motorcyclist enough time to react in a hazardous situation.
  2. Only attempt lane splitting when traffic is moving below 30 MPH. As speed increases, crash severity increases.
  3. It is safest to lane split between the #1 and #2 lanes. Other drivers expect to see a motorcycle between the lanes furthest to the left. This also keeps you clear of on-ramps and exits.
  4. Consider all of your surroundings before lane splitting. Take note of the lane width, current traffic, and know the limitations of your motorcycle (wide bars, bags, etc). If visibility is poor, you increase your risk for a motorcycle accident.
  5. Be alert and anticipate possible movements by other road users. Be aware of what other cars are doing around you – beware of vehicle lane changing and blind spots. Riders are not advised to weave back and forth between lanes or ride on top of the line.

While you’re traveling on a motorcycle, whether you’re lane splitting, or taking a leisurly ride – always remember the “4 R’s of Be-Attitudes”:

Be Reasonable. Be Responsible. Be Respectful. Beware Roadways.

Following these steps provided by CMSP-CHP will increase your ability to ride safely while using lane splitting techniques, however are not guaranteed to keep you safe.

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About the Author

Michael Padway is a motorcycle accident attorney with over 40 years of experience in motorcycle cases. He’s been a lifelong motorcycle rider, and fanatic for its culture, advocacy, and safety. If you need assistance with a motorcycle accident, contact him at (800) 928-1511 or visit michaelpadway.com for a free consultation.