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California Highway Patrol Posts Rules for Legal Lane Splitting

By Kelly Balamuth on February 27, 2013

Have you ever been traveling in your car along a Northern California highway, when a motorcyclist shoots out ahead of you by cutting between you and the car in the adjacent lane? This practice is called lane splitting or white lining. Motorcycles drive between slower moving vehicles in adjacent lanes in order to pass them. The practice tends to startle and terrify car drivers.

You may be surprised to learn that this practice is legal in California. Yes, legal. California is the only state in the U.S. where lane splitting is legal. As reported in The Sacramento Bee, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials have just posted a set of guidelines for lane splitting. This confirms the legality of the practice but at the same time makes the point that only in certain situations is it considered safe. The California Highway Patrol is hoping their guidelines will clarify the controversial practice.

Northern California Lane SplittingAccording to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Pope, the practice of lane splitting needed to be acknowledged, and guidelines needed to be issued explaining how to lane split safely. The guidelines state that a motorcyclist can legally ride between two adjacent cars, but their speed can be no more than ten miles per hour faster than the two vehicles they are maneuvering in between. Never should the maneuver be made at freeway speeds. The highest safe speed for white lining is 39 miles per hour.

Since there is nothing in the state vehicle code specifically prohibiting lane splitting, the California Highway Patrol have always viewed it as legal so long as it is done safely and at a slow speed. CHP officers issue citations for lane splitting only if the rider is traveling too fast or changing lanes unsafely.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car crash caused by the negligence of another, contact Northern California car accident attorney Kelly Balamuth as soon as possible. She will listen to the details of your particular situation and evaluate your case. Call (888) 254-1234 for a free initial consultation.

Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
September 2013 Issue of Plaintiff Magazine.

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