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New Lane-Splitting Guidelines Set for California Motorcyclists

By Robyn Ridpath, Assignment Editor
Published On: Feb 15 2013 07:34:24 PM CST
NORTHSTATE, Calif. -

Lane-splitting is a risky maneuver performed by motorcyclists that allows them to cut between slower moving cars to get ahead of traffic, and California is the only state where it's legal.

The California Highway Patrol has for the first time released guidelines for lane-splitting. Although it's legal to lane-split in California, motorcyclists still have to obey existing traffic laws and can still be ticketed by law enforcement for making an unsafe movement.

According to the CHP, motorcyclists should not lane split when traffic is at 30 miles per hour or faster and they should travel at a speed that is no more than 10 miles per hour faster than the flow of traffic. This means the highest speed a motorcyclist should ever be going while lane-splitting is 39 miles per hour.

Police also recommended motorcyclists should only lane-split between the two fast lanes to try and avoid traffic from on-ramps. They added that lane-splitting is not recommended for everyone and only experienced riders should attempt the maneuver.

The CHP suggested that motorcyclists should avoid lane-splitting at toll booths, around curves, between buses and RV's, and on slippery roads.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, motorcycle fatalities increased 15 percent from 352 deaths in 2010 to 414 deaths in 2011. In 2010, 79 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were at fault and 57 percent of motorcyclists involved in injury crashes were at fault.

Nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said motorcyclists had the highest percentage of fatal crashes with fixed objects among all vehicles at 27 percent.