Splitting Lanes Without Putting Yourself In Danger

Posted on February 7, 2014

Here in Los Angeles, we can look forward to beautiful weather all throughout the year.  As such, you’re going to see motorcycles across Southern California’s roads in the winter as well as the summer.  Drivers of automobiles have to be willing to accommodate these vehicles so that a deadly or injurious crash doesn’t take place.

That said, there are things that motorcyclists themselves can do to limit exposure to a potential accident.  Near the top of the list is using the utmost caution when engaging in the practice known as lane splitting.  This maneuver, which is legal in the state of California, involves riding between two lanes of traffic.  It’s a way to get around traffic snarls, but with the wrong move, it’s also a way to end up in the hospital.

California’s Office of Traffic Safety has a valuable resource that any motorcyclist with his or her mind set on lane splitting would be wise to remember.  In doing, you’ll find that lane splitting, while not completely free of danger, will nevertheless be less perilous than it could be.

First, take into consideration speed, not just of yourself but of all those vehicles surrounding you.  When vehicles are going more than 30 miles per hour, you’re going to want to avoid lane splitting, as evasiveness is far more difficult at such high speeds.  Plus, once you’re at that speed, there’s really no need for lane splitting because the flow of traffic is steadily moving.  When you do lane split, make sure to keep your own speed within reason; ten mph is perhaps the biggest difference you want there to be between you and stopped or slow-moving automobiles.

There are some situations where this maneuver is never going to be acceptable.  Curves are dangerous because other vehicles may drift out of their own lanes.  You probably aren’t going to want to dart between a couple of large tractor-trailers either.  Not only can a gust of wind send the trucks off course, but it’s harder for those drivers to see you.  In fact, if at any point you’re the least bit unsure of your ability to safely weave between two vehicles, then you should wait until you have an opening that wouldn’t put you in danger to avoid the risk of being in a serious motorcycle accident.

Also realize the risk of lane splitting at an area of the highway where people are entering from surface streets.  People may veer over to the furthest left lanes and they may not always be looking out for motorcyclists.  It’s usually best to stick to the leftmost portion of the road, where your presence will be more readily expected.

Be careful out there.  Take each situation on its own merits and always err on the side of caution when there exists a concern about safety.

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