Can Motorcycles Split Lanes In California? Is It Legal?

can motorcycles split lanes

Lane splitting is a divisive issue that doesn’t seem to allow for any middle ground; you either love it or hate it. In California, however, you can no longer disregard it. Although politicians and experts have emphasized the many advantages of lane splitting, motorcycles sneakily passing cars between lanes are responsible for about 16% of accidents. So, are motorcycles able to split lanes? Keep reading to find out the answers.

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting (sometimes called “stripe riding”) is when a motorcyclist rides between 2 lanes of cars heading in the same direction. Most cyclists on highways split lanes when traffic slows, but some cyclists also do so when approaching a stoplight.

Is It Safe To Split Lanes?

In general, motorcyclists say they lane split for 2 reasons:

  • Speed
  • Safety

Motorcycle riders can move through traffic quickly by lane splitting in terms of speed. Additionally, less traffic is clogging the road thanks to lane splitting.

Motorcyclists contend that lane splitting reduces their risk of being hit from behind by a 4-wheeler from a safety perspective. It’s not hard to picture this situation. Drivers who are inattentive frequently hit the vehicles in front of them as traffic comes to a stop.

A motorcycle rider who is rear-ended, even at a low speed, is likely to suffer severe injuries or even perish.

According to motorcycle safety consultant Steven Guderian, lane splitting “is actually a viable safety technique that removes the motorcycle and rider from the danger spot behind a stopped car, and places the motorcycle into the more secure safety envelope that is created between two larger vehicles.”This safety claim is supported by additional studies.

A recent study by the Safe Transportation Research & Education Center at the University of California Berkeley found that: “When compared to other non-lane-splitting riders, lane-splitting riders had a significantly lower risk of being rear-ended.”

However, opponents of lane splitting contend that riders dart in and out of traffic, frightening motorists and posing a risk to themselves and other road users (for instance, if a car were to attempt to change lanes).

Can Motorcycles Split Lanes?

In the great US states, cyclists, and motorcyclists have become “the little black of rice”, among the thousands of cars that circulate daily on the highways.

can motorcycles split lanes

It is no secret that many drivers view motorcycle riders as the enemy they must vanquish, especially when they disobey the traffic laws that apply to them.

We decided to review some of the most crucial aspects of this subject result, especially the one that explains when it is okay for motorcycles to cross lanes.

In some states, lane splitting is not explicitly prohibited, but as of September 2017, it is only permitted in California. As a result of numerous inquiries regarding the legality in their own states, we investigated the relevant statutes and created the chart below.

Even though your state may not have a law prohibiting it, the Highway Patrol will decide if your behavior is unsafe, so you could still receive a ticket.

Benefits Of Splitting Lanes


Traffic jams are a common occurrence in urban areas like the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and other parts of California. Driving a mile across town in Los Angeles during rush hour can take an hour. Motorcyclists can escape painful traffic by using lane splitting.

One commuter told LA Weekly that he cuts his morning commute from 50 minutes to 25 by scooting past gridlock traffic on his motorcycle.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

We reduce the amount of exhaust-emitting vehicles on the road by allowing motorcycles to pass through car lanes. According to a study by the Belgian research firm Transport & Mobility Leuven, if 10% of cars were replaced by motorcycles, traffic times would be reduced for all drivers by 63%, and carbon emissions would go down by 6%.

It’s Safe

In the United States, rear-end collisions are among the most typical types of collisions. Your chances of being rear-ended are also decreased by reducing the number of vehicles behind you.

Lane-splitting Safety Tips

If lane splitting is legal in your state or if there are no laws prohibiting lane splitting, here are some general tips you should keep in mind to stay safe:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, taking note of the lane widths, the sizes of the nearby cars, the weather, and the state of the road.
  • Lane splitting becomes more hazardous as you travel faster.
  • It becomes riskier to split lanes the faster the cars around you are moving.
  • Splitting between the far left lanes of traffic is typically safer than doing so between the other lanes of traffic.
  • Avoid splitting close to big vehicles (18-wheelers, motorhomes, etc.)
  • In most states, it is unlawful to ride on the shoulder, which is not lane splitting.
  • Don’t stay in other drivers’ blind spots any longer than is necessary.
  • Wear contrasting protective clothing, such as a helmet, and use high beams even during the day to make yourself more visible to other drivers.

States Where Lane Splitting Is Legal

In both Asia and Europe, lane spotting is a common practice. American bikers and their legislators frequently engage in contentious discussions about the practice.

Currently, California is the only state that explicitly permits lane splitting. A number of additional American states are considering passing legislation to legalize lane splitting.

The states in question are Texas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas, Connecticut, Maryland, and Maryland. Every other U.S. state forbids lane splitting. state. Utah law forbids lane splitting but permits lane filtering.

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