Lane splitting or lane Sharing in the United States:


A recent study by UC Berkeley says that motorcyclists who exchange lanes may be safer, especially when it comes to collisions from behind.

In California, lane sharing, splitting lanes or riding between cars to come forward in traffic is not illegal. But is not legal either. Coming from the notion that anything that is not prohibited is, in fact, allowed, riders in that state freely travel in between cars.. In order to clarify this situation, authorities decided to regulate lane splitting and have sent a bill to the State Assembly to put down proper language that will allow – or prohibit – this practice.

lane-sharing-1This decision was taken because they want to regulate under which circumstances lane splitting can be done. That would include speed, areas and weather circumstances.

Dr. Thomas Rice of  Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) closely reviewed 6,000 collisions involving motorcyclists between June 2012 and August 2013, including 997 where the motorcyclists were practicing “lane splitting” in the moment of impact (full original report).

Wayne Allard, AMA representative (Vice President, Government Affairs), thinks that the most dangerous situation for the rider is standing still in traffic where distracted drivers are in a move-stop-move situation; not to mention the environmental conditions (rain, poor visibility, etc.). He says that it potentially increases the risk of accidents. He complements saying that reducing the biker’s exposure to these risks, like acceleration and deceleration in congested “highways” traffic could reduce the number of rear-end collisions.

The numbers released by research from the University Berkeley are impressive:

  • Lane splitting” is safe if done in traffic to 50mph or less and the rider not exceed the driver’s speed over 15mph
  • *69% of motorcyclists who do “lane-splitting” that exceeded the traffic speed at 15mph or less are not associated with accidents
  • *compared to riders who do not “lane-splitting”, that do suffer fewer head injuries (9% vs 17%), less body injuries (19% vs 29%) and fewer deaths (1.2% vs 3%)
  • *bikers who make “lane-splitting” are less affected behind (2.6%) than those who do not “lane-splitting” (4.6%)
  • *bikers who make “lane-splitting” use full face helmets, about 81%, against 67% who do not “lane-splitting”
  • *bikers who make “lane-splitting” are the most common in times of back-and-forth work and during the week, and they use better helmets and travel at lower speeds
  • *finally, the “lane-splitting” riders, as the article mentions, are those that don’t make use of alcohol.

Then, based on scientific studies like this, “lane-splitting” is considered more responsible and safe technique for both drivers and motorcyclists, Allard says. This practice will make the traffic easy, the motorcycle ride will be far away from the cars and trucks, and avoid rear-end collisions at risk of the stop-and-going in congested traffic.

This practice is known and legally practiced in many countries in Europe and Asia as well as being recognized by alleviating traffic congestion and prevent collisions, but is banned in the United States except for California.



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