Is Lane Splitting Really Unsafe?

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In several states across the country, lane splitting is illegal. But in Europe and Asia, it’s perfectly legal for motorcyclists to ride between the lanes.

In California, some think that lane splitting has always been illegal. But in the Golden State, it’s easy to spot motorcyclists zipping by vehicles often precisely because the practice was never criminalized.

But in the near future, California politicians will be able to add some new rules to the currently unruly realm of lane splitting.

With a new bill that has just passed the California Assembly and that is not headed to the Senate, local politicians would regulate lane splitting, but wouldn’t criminalize it.

To experts, that’s a great idea. But to several drivers, the practice seems somewhat unsafe.

If riders are considerate, the practice is advantageous for both riders and drivers. After all, motorcycles could get out of the way more effectively and quickly in heavy traffic, opening up the way for when the traffic begins to flow again.

A study carried out in 2012 by a Belgian research firm shows that lane splitting reduces congestion and carbon emissions. But that’s not all. According to motorcycle safety consultant Steve Guderian, lane splitting—a technique also known as traffic filtering—makes roads safer because they remove motorcyclists from danger spots, which are usually located behind a stopped car. When the rider is placed in the envelope created by two larger vehicles, he or she is safer.

On top of being better for the environment and the traffic, lane splitting makes roads safer. So how come so many states still prohibit motorcyclists from cutting time by riding between cars when traffic congestion is high?

In California, the number of motorcyclist fatalities involving rear end collisions is low when compared to rates coming from other states. To experts, however, making the practice officially legal is not enough. To many, motorcyclists should also be educated on the importance of following some important safety tips while lane splitting so other minor accidents can be avoided.

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