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A.B. 51 authorized standards development

The California Highway Patrol has released its long-awaited tips for motorcyclists who split lanes in traffic.

The recommendations were authorized under A.B. 51, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2016. The law, sponsored by Assemblymembers Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and Tom Lackey (R- Palmdale), is the first legislative recognition of lane splitting, in which motorcyclists ride between lanes of stopped or slowed traffic.

The CHP tips include information for motorcyclists and drivers of other vehicles.

Photo by Kevin Wing

Download the CHP document by clicking here.

Safety tips for motorcyclists include:

  • Consider the total environment when you are lane splitting. This includes the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles and current roadway, weather and lighting conditions.
  • Danger increases at higher speed differentials (the difference between the speed of the motorcyclist and that of nearby vehicles).
  • Danger increases as overall speed increases.
  • It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than between other lanes of traffic.
  • Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles (big rigs, buses, motorhomes, etc.).
  • Riding on the shoulder is illegal and is not considered lane splitting.
  • Be visible. Avoid remaining in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.
  • Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored/reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight.

Messages for other vehicle drivers include:

  • Lane splitting by motorcyclists is legal in California.
  • Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist is illegal.
  • Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist is illegal.
  • Drivers in the far left lane should move to the left of their lane to give motorcyclists ample room to pass.

CHP safety tips for all motorists include:

  • Check mirrors and blind spots, especially before changing lanes or turning.
  • Signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Be alert and anticipate possible movements by other motorists.
  • Never ride or drive while impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue.
  • Be courteous and share the road.

The CHP warns that splitting lanes can be dangerous and should not be performed by inexperienced riders.

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