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A couple of weeks ago, my family and I drove from L.A. to San Diego as we do several times a year. On the 90-minute to three-hour drive (depending on traffic), we pass time by playing games, including the license plate game. It’s hard for me to look at license plates unless they’re right in front of me because I’m usually driving and need to pay attention to the road. And one of the things I have to be on the lookout for are motorcycles – especially when we’re in the carpool or Express Pass lanes. RELATED:: Wild Video: The Craziest Thing You’ve Ever Seen on a California Freeway … And That’s Saying Something

That’s because in 2017, lane splitting for motorcyclists was formally added to the California Vehicle Code. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) defines lane splitting as “driving a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”

I’m not sure what the laws are in other states but in California, you really need to be on the lookout for motorcyclists because they can sometimes sneak up behind you very quickly. I’m shocked how crazy some of these drivers are as well how oblivious many behind the wheel of a car are, as well.

I almost always know when someone is fast approaching on a motorcycle and I always go as far to the left as I can so they have plenty of room to pass. I know they appreciate this because the majority of riders throw me a peace sign every time I do it, which you can see in the photo above, snapped by my wife.

I’m sharing this with you because on our way home from San Diego, a guy on a loud Harley zoomed by and the person in front of me did not move to the left at all. In fact, they were straddling the carpool lane’s lines and the motorcyclist was pissed (he definitely had anger issues). He smacked the car’s passenger’s window and flipped the driver the bird when he finally found room.

The motorcyclist was out of line but it really could have gotten ugly, which is why I’m sharing this story.

I did some research and the CHP has some valuable information for both motorcyclists and drivers on their website.

First of all, the CHP states the obvious with a disclaimer: “Lane splitting can be dangerous and extreme caution should be exercised. It should not be performed by inexperienced riders. The risk of death or serious injury during a lane splitting collision increases as speed and speed differential increases. These general safety tips are provided to assist you in the practice; however, they are not guaranteed to keep you safe. Every rider has the ultimate responsibility for their own decision-making and safety.”

Lane Splitting Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Here are more of their tips:
-“Consider the total environment when you are lane splitting (this includes the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles, as well as current roadway, weather, and lighting conditions).
-Danger increases at higher speed differentials.
-Danger increases as overall speed increases.
-It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than between the other lanes of traffic.
-Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles (big rigs, buses, motorhomes, etc.).
-Riding on the shoulder is illegal; it is not considered lane splitting.
-Be visible – Avoid remaining in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.
-Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored/reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight.”

FYI: The motorcyclist that I mentioned above with anger management issues was wearing a neon orange sweatshirt, which I thought was weird until I read the last tip. So it was smart of him but it didn’t seem to help the oblivious driver in front.

The CHP also included this information:
-Lane splitting by motorcyclists is legal in California.
-Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider is illegal.
-Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist is illegal.
-Drivers in the far left lane should move to the left of their lane to give motorcyclists ample room to pass.

I hope this information helps keep you a little bit safer on your California road trips or wherever you find yourself in the U.S.

BTW: San Diego County is a fantastic destination to take little kids like ours, who are ages four and seven.There’s so much to do like Legoland, San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Sesame Place, the Flower Fields, gorgeous beaches and hotels for every price point.

The Family-Friendly California Attraction You’ve Never Heard of But Need to Visit
5 Family-Friendly California Road Trip Ideas From Los Angeles
The 10 Most Instagrammable Tourist Attractions in California
California Road Trip: Los Angeles to San Francisco and Must-Visit Stops Along the Way
Our First Family Trip To Legoland and The Castle Hotel

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2 Comments On "Did you know that lane splitting is legal in California? Here's how to keep everyone safe on the roads"
  1. Rich|

    It is very possible that the side view mirrors were not set up to see the motorcyclist speeding down lane split, which I as an out of state driver, HATE so much, whenever I drive in CA. Which I try to avoid at all costs.

  2. Robert|

    Georgia motorcyclist here (and Delta Gold). I’ve ridden in California and I’ve most of the drivers very accommodating to lane splitting, almost as good as Europe (except Switzerland…). Cheers!

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