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California Highway Patrol has more say in motorcycle safety

The safety of motorcyclists is often a hot button issue for riders. Motorcyclists are required to take extra training courses to ride, but motor vehicle drivers are often left unaware of the dangers present on two wheels. With Los Angeles’ warm weather and a high volume of traffic, the area is a motorcyclist’s paradise.

A new law on the books in California allows riders to use the road in a way that cars cannot. Lane splitting, the act of driving between two lanes of vehicles, is now officially legal in California. The law also allows California Highway Patrol (CHP) to provide guidelines to the state Department of Motor Vehicles to improve motorcycle safety manuals.

CHP’s lane splitting guidelines are not laws, but a highway patrolman could still pull over a motorcyclist if their actions violate existing law. The law enforcement agency’s initial guidance reminds riders to watch out for speed and merge points when driving between cars.

The 10/30 rule

Even in times of heavy congestion and slow downs, speed can still play a dangerous role in a crash. CHP suggests that motorcyclists never drive more than 10 mph faster than the flow of traffic when lane splitting.

Further, lane splitting should not be used when going faster than 30 mph. Using the 10/30 rule allows riders to maintain a safe speed while taking advantage of the road as a motorcyclist.

Avoid lane splitting at merge points

Merge points are often a culprit in collisions and congestion on the road. Therefore, motorcyclists should not lane split at merge points. This problem could arise especially when riding in the far left or right lane on a highway.

When approaching a merge point, motorcyclists should ride in the marked lane of traffic and use the zipper merge technique, allowing every other car in like a zipper on a jacket.

Look ahead to anticipate hazards

This guideline is already well-taught among riders, but it is important to remember as motor vehicle drivers may be unaware that lane splitting is now legal. Keeping an eye on what’s ahead can allow motorcyclists to anticipate hazards and stay out of harm’s way.

Despite a rider’s best efforts, no one can avoid all accidents. However, a personal injury attorney can be used to hold drivers accountable for their inattentiveness to motorcycles. Riders can improve their chances of recovery and compensation by obeying the law and acting safely when lane splitting.