How many times has a motorcycle roared past you while you sat in bumper-to-bumper gridlock, and you thought to yourself – “That is so dangerous.” or “They are going to get killed.” It is common sense after all – we’ve all watched as motorcyclists come dangerously close to clipping mirrors, doors, windows and entire cars as they split the lanes through congested traffic. It can’t be safe, can it? As it turns out, we four-wheeled naysayers are considerably off the mark.
A new study conducted by UC Berkeley, using compiled data from over 6,000 motorcycle accidents investigated by the California Highway Patrol, points to the exact opposite. Accidents that occur while a motorcyclist is lane splitting end up being far less damaging and dangerous than accidents that occur when they are not.
As reported by the LA Times, this new study is aptly timed. Pending legislation passed in the Assembly this week, aims to make California the first state in the Union to legalize lane splitting. Assembly Bill 51 would allow motorcyclist to split lanes at roughly 15 mph when traffic is at a standstill, and allow drivers to split when traffic is moving at a maximum of 50 mph. This “speed differential” is what both lawmakers and professors at UC Berkeley suggest makes all the difference.
Thomas Rice of the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center believes that as long as these speeds are maintained, motorcyclists are safe: “We found that motorcycle speed differential is a stronger predictor of injury than was the overall traffic speed.”
Despite the controversy, Assembly Bill 51 now moves onto the Senate where it is believed to pass relatively easily. Until then, lane splitting remains a vague, semi-legal behavior that many motorcyclists engage in. Because it is a relatively nebulous idea that can be easily abused, motorists and motorcyclists are left with complex legal issues after an accident involving lane splitting.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, regardless if you were a motorist or motorcyclist in said collision, contact Kahn Roven for help right away. Call (844) 9-INJURED.