When car vs. motorcycle collisions occur, the motorcyclist often takes the brunt of the injuries. That’s one reason why responsible drivers try to keep plenty of room between their vehicle and nearby motorcyclists. That isn’t always easy.
California is unique (at least in the U.S.) in that it allows motorcyclists to engage in a practice called “lane splitting.” The California Vehicle Code defines lane splitting as “driving a motorcycle…between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane….”
Lane splitting isn’t appropriate for all traffic conditions
Of course, just because the practice isn’t prohibited, that doesn’t mean it’s always safe – or that motorcyclists aren’t sometimes reckless when they do it. For example, it can be dangerous on a freeway where traffic is moving at or above the speed limit. It can also be dangerous in “stop-and-start” traffic, which describes the traffic on some freeways throughout the day and certainly during popular commute times.
When motorcyclists lane split in these conditions, they can put themselves and others on the road at risk. It’s also unwise to lane split around large vehicles like RVs and commercial trucks because it’s easy to get into one of their blind spots.
All vehicles have some blind spots. Fortunately, many now have blind spot alerts. However, most drivers in and around Los Angeles have found themselves startled by a lane-splitting motorcyclist who suddenly appears in front of them. A lane-splitting motorcyclist who’s going too fast or maneuvering in and out of high-speed traffic can cause drivers to make unsafe maneuvers like suddenly stopping or swerving into another lane.
When motorcyclists aren’t careful, others can get hurt
No matter how safely you drive and try to co-exist peacefully with vehicles of all types and sizes on the road, you can’t always prevent a collision if a motorcyclist makes a sudden, unsafe and/or illegal move. Even if you were the one who collided with the motorcycle or another vehicle, you may have little or no fault for the crash.
That’s why it’s important to understand California’s negligence laws and how the degree of each party’s fault affects their ability to get compensation. This reality can and does affect how much compensation you can seek for medical bills and other expenses and damages in the event that you’re involved in a crash. Ultimately, for these reasons and more, it’s wise to have legal guidance before you agree to any settlement.