Personal injury attorney in Rancho Cucamonga handles lane splitting motorcycle accident cases.

What You Need to Know About Motorcycle Accidents and Lane Splitting in Southern California

Lane splitting, the practice of riding a motorcycle between lanes of stopped or moving motor vehicles, is legal in California. While this maneuver can help alleviate traffic congestion in places like Rancho Cucamonga, it is not without risks. Serious accidents can still occur, even when it is performed safely and with good judgment.

The Legality of Lane Splitting in Southern California

According to California Vehicle Code Section 21658.1, lane splitting is defined as driving a motorcycle with two wheels touching the ground between moving or stopped vehicles that are in the same lane. This maneuver was legalized in California in 2016, primarily to help alleviate traffic congestion on the state’s notoriously busy highways. However, lane splitting must be done safely and within certain restrictions.

Restrictions and Guidelines for Lane Splitting in Rancho Cucamonga

While lane splitting is legal in California, there are restrictions in place to ensure the safety of motorcyclists and drivers. For example, riders cannot lane split on highway shoulders, as these are not considered part of two lanes of traffic. Additionally, lane splitting is not permitted when conditions are dangerous, such as during bad weather, in areas with insufficient lighting, or on roads in disrepair.

For motorcyclists, it is recommended that they only lane split when traveling no more than 10-15 mph faster than surrounding vehicles. This maneuver can be performed on all roads, including undivided and divided streets as well as highways.

For drivers, it is important to be aware of the possibility of motorcyclists lane splitting, especially in slowed or stopped traffic. Stay in the center of your lane, listen for approaching motorcycles, and double-check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes.

Lane Splitting Safety Tips

To ensure the safety of Rancho Cucamonga motorcyclists and drivers, there are several safety tips to follow when lane splitting:

  • Consider the Total Environment: When you are a motorcyclist who is thinking about splitting lanes, take into account the width of the lanes, the size of the surrounding vehicles, and the weather and lighting conditions. Adverse conditions can increase the risk of a lane-splitting accident.
  • Be Mindful of Speed Differentials: The risk of an accident increases with higher speed differentials between your motorcycle and the other vehicles. Maintain a speed close to the surrounding traffic to minimize this risk.
  • Stay Out of Blind Spots: Be alert to your position relative to other vehicles and avoid staying in their blind spots. This helps ensure that other drivers are aware of your presence.
  • Avoid Lane Splitting Between Large Vehicles: In Rancho Cucamonga, there are a lot of large vehicles on the roads such as commercial trucks and buses that have multiple large blind spots. Refrain from splitting lanes between vehicles like these to reduce the likelihood of an accident.
  • Exercise Caution and Be Experienced: Lane splitting can be dangerous and should only be performed by experienced riders with extreme caution. Inexperienced riders should avoid this maneuver.
  • Stay Off Road Markers: Avoid riding on road markers as they can be slippery, especially when wet. Stick to one side of the marker to maintain better traction.
  • Lower Your Speed: Avoid getting carried away with speed while lane splitting. Excessive speed increases the risk of an accident.
  • Be Aware of Uneven Pavement and Markings: Uneven pavement and road markings can pose hazards for lane-splitting motorcyclists. Stay alert and navigate these obstacles with caution.
  • Stay Visible: Wear bright, reflective clothing and use your high beams during the daytime to help other drivers see you while lane splitting.
  • Avoid Lane Splitting Near Highway Ramps: Refrain from splitting lanes near highway exit and entrance ramps as these areas tend to have more unpredictable vehicle movements. In Rancho Cucamonga, for example, exercise caution when riding near the I-15 and I-210 interchange, the Highway 66 and I-15 junction, and similar crossings.

Causes and Consequences of Lane-Splitting Accidents in Rancho Cucamonga

When lane-splitting accidents occur, the consequences can be severe for all parties involved. The common causes of lane-splitting motorcycle crashes include:

  • Speeding: When motorcyclists or drivers travel at excessive speeds, their reaction times are reduced, and their ability to respond to sudden changes in traffic conditions is impaired. This can lead to collisions, particularly during lane-splitting maneuvers where distances between vehicles are already limited.
  • Distracted Driving: Rancho Cucamonga drivers who are texting, talking on the phone, or engaging in other distracting activities may fail to notice a motorcyclist who is splitting lanes, thus increasing the risk of a crash. Distracted driving can also cause drivers to make sudden or unpredictable maneuvers, further endangering lane-splitting motorcyclists.
  • Intoxication: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction times. Intoxicated drivers may not be aware of a lane-splitting motorcyclist, or they may make erratic and dangerous movements on the road, increasing the likelihood of a motorcycle crash.
  • Drowsy Driving: Fatigue can significantly impair a driver’s ability to focus on and react to changes in traffic conditions. Drowsy drivers may not see a lane-splitting motorcyclist or may drift between lanes, creating a hazardous situation for the rider.
  • Unsafe Lane Changes: Sudden, unexpected lane changes can be particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. Drivers who fail to signal or check their blind spots before changing lanes may inadvertently collide with a motorcyclist who is splitting lanes.

Injured motorcyclists may be entitled to various forms of compensation, depending on the specifics of their case. These may include:

  • Medical Expenses: This covers the cost of any medical treatment, including hospital stays, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any future medical expenses related to the accident.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for lost wages accounts for the time the injured motorcyclist was unable to work due to their injuries.
  • Lost Earning Capacity: If the motorcyclist’s injuries result in a permanent disability or impairment that affects their ability to earn a living, they may be entitled to compensation for lost earning capacity.
  • Pain and Suffering: This form of compensation accounts for the physical pain and discomfort the motorcyclist experienced as a result of the accident.
    Emotional Distress: Injured motorcyclists may be entitled to compensation for the psychological impact of the accident, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Diminished Quality of Life: If the accident results in a significant reduction in the motorcyclist’s ability to enjoy life, engage in hobbies, or maintain personal relationships, they may be entitled to compensation for diminished quality of life.

In cases where the actions of the party responsible for the crash were particularly egregious or reckless, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party and deter similar behavior in the future.

Seeking Legal Help for a Lane-Splitting Motorcycle Accident

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident involving lane splitting, whether as a motorcyclist or a driver, it is essential to seek the help of a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Rancho Cucamonga. At Muhareb Law Group, we have several years of experience successfully representing individuals who have been injured in motorcycle crashes in San Bernardino County and throughout Southern California.

We work closely with our clients to help them successfully navigate the often complicated and confusing legal process. And our in-depth knowledge of the complexities involved with these types of cases puts our clients in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation.

Call our office today at (909) 519-5832 or send us an online message to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and case assessment.