Most California motorcyclists appreciate the fact that they can legally engage in “lane splitting.” That means they can ride on or near the white line separating traffic moving in the same directions on streets and freeways. So far, despite attempts to legalize this practice in other states, California is alone in allowing it.
Lane splitting helps motorcyclists avoid the gridlock that so many of us sit in every day during rush hour or whenever there’s an accident or road work. Some motorcycle advocates argue that it also helps minimize traffic jams. However, it can be disconcerting (and more than a little frustrating) for drivers to see a motorcyclist appear seemingly out of nowhere behind or next to them.
Even though lane-splitting motorcyclists may be driving perfectly legally, drivers who aren’t adequately aware of their surroundings can make a move that could cause serious or fatal injuries. Following a few basic safety precautions can help you be aware of any motorcyclist that’s near you on the road.
Signal early before changing lanes or turning
This can keep everyone on the road safe. We’ve all had close calls (and sometimes collisions) with someone who changed lanes without signaling. However, it’s particularly helpful to motorcyclists to know what drivers ahead of them are planning to do.
Always look around before you change lanes
We’ve all been taught not to just look in our mirrors but over our shoulders before we change lanes. Unfortunately, too many people neglect the latter –- especially if they have a blind-spot alert in their vehicle. However, it’s key to ensure that the area where you want to go is clear before you move.
Maintain your speed and your lane
Some drivers try to get out of the way of a lane-splitting motorcyclist to better avoid hitting them. They may quickly change lanes or speed up. Some slow down to let the biker move past them. Safety professionals say that it’s best to continue driving as you were. Driver predictability is important for motorcyclists. It’s easier for them to adjust their position as they move through traffic.
Whether you’re a driver who’s been injured by another motorist trying to avoid a lane-splitting biker or you’re a motorcyclist who’s been struck and injured, it’s crucial to get the compensation you need for short-term and long-term expenses.