Does lane splitting make a motorcycle rider at fault for a crash?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Motorcycle Accidents |

Motorcycle riders have more reason than others in traffic to make safety a top priority. Their vehicles may be powerful and fast, but they don’t offer much protection in the event of a crash. Motorcycle riders are often more proactive about complying with traffic laws than those in larger vehicles because of the safety risks inherent in motorcycle travel.

Part of what makes motorcycles so appealing is how they allow for more ease of maneuvering in heavy traffic. A motorcycle could potentially breeze through a traffic jam where those in bigger vehicles sit idling for hours. Doing so involves switching between lanes and splitting lanes with other vehicles.

If a motorcycle rider splits a lane or drives next to another vehicle, would that make them at fault for any crash that they experience?

Lane splitting is legal in California

Some traffic laws in California are vastly different than traffic statutes in other states. Most jurisdictions prohibit lane splitting. Motorcycle riders cannot lawfully enter a lane of traffic already occupied by another vehicle. Lane splitting in most other states could potentially lead to a traffic citation or a designation of fault after a crash.

However, the law in California actually permits lane splitting. Motorcycle riders can lawfully maneuver around other vehicles in traffic provided that they abide by the speed limit and use their signals appropriately. A police officer looking into a collision would not automatically blame the motorcycle rider simply because they engaged in lane splitting before the crash.

Those in larger vehicles should make a point of watching for motorcycles, including those approaching through heavy traffic. Learning more about California’s unique traffic laws may help people better respond to a motorcycle collision.