Splitting Lanes Without Splitting Heads

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A recent change in policy from the California Highway Patrol has the practice of lane splitting in the spotlight. That’s why the motorcycle accident attorneys of the Nagelberg Bernard Law Group are offering tips geared toward preventing deadly collisions.

...the act known as lane splitting is actually legal in California.

Any number of Southern California drivers have probably been caught up in gridlock when a motorcycle suddenly jostled past them in the area between lanes.

This maneuver, known as lane splitting, is permitted within reason, but it always has to be approached with the utmost caution. Toward that end, the Nagelberg Bernard Law Group is offering a series of insights focused on helping motorcyclists navigate this often perilous form of navigation.

Larry Nagelberg, an avid motorcyclist as well as one of the firm’s lead attorneys, had this to say:

“Probably more than a few drivers have watched a motorcycle split lanes and wondered, with maybe a trace of jealousy, why the police are never around to put an end to such behavior,” said Mr. Nagelberg. “They don’t realize the act known as lane splitting is actually legal in California. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this topic, and in light of recent developments, I’ve directed my team to clear up some of this confusion with a few tips.”

The development Larry referenced is the recent move by the California Highway Patrol to take down a web resource geared toward helping riders ensure their own lane splitting is conducted in the safest manner possible. That decision, which was explored in greater detail in the July 24 San Francisco Gate article “Motorcyclists revved up about removal of lane-splitting guidelines,” makes it more important than ever for riders to understand how to safely ride between lanes.

The following tips from the Nagelberg Bernard Law Group seek to aid riders in their quest to stay safe on the road:

•Splitting Isn’t Mandatory- Just like there isn’t a law banning lane splitting in California, there’s no law mandating that a motorcyclist must engage in the act. Persons who aren’t comfortable splitting lanes shouldn’t feel like they have to just to get ahead a few car lengths. Only those confident in their skills should even attempt this act.

•Look Ahead- While some traffic jams simply come with the territory of living in Los Angeles and nearby environs, there will be instances where traffic is stopped for a reason, be that an accident, a stalled vehicle, or some other hazard. Confirm that gridlock is the result of heavy traffic, not an upcoming threat, before splitting lanes.

•Blind Ambition- Motorcyclists have to ride as if the vehicles surrounding them in traffic know nothing of their presence. That means refraining from spending too much time in blind spots, where a motorcycle might be concealed. A motorcyclist either needs to hustle past a vehicle or hang far enough back that they wouldn’t get sideswiped if a driver decides to switch lanes.

•Helmet Hair- This doesn’t have to do with lane splitting specifically, but whenever a motorcyclist hops on their ride, he or she must adorn a helmet in the event of a crash. Even the most responsible lane splitter can be taken down by one driver making an errant maneuver, and a helmet can reduce the risk of the ensuing collision turning deadly.

•Splitting Hairs- If there’s any question whatsoever as to the amount of space available between two vehicles next to each other, a motorcyclist should bide his or her time before attempting to split the lanes. The bigger the space, the safer the race.

•Curb Appeal- Splitting always needs to occur between two lanes of traffic rather than a lane of traffic and a parking lane. Just like bicyclists can be put in danger by the door of a parked car being thrown open, a motorcyclist is also at risk when he or she tries to skirt parked automobiles. If two lanes aren’t available, then splitting must wait.

The Nagelberg Bernard Law Group represents the victims of numerous types of personal injury situations, including automobile accidents, dog bites, slip and fall incidents, defective products, and wrongful death in any of the above. They have guided injured persons through the legal process for more than 30 years and their efforts have helped secure more than $400 million in compensation for clients. Interested persons are encouraged to visit the Nagelberg Bernard Law Group’s Los Angeles motorcycle accident website to receive a free consultation.

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Larry Nagelberg
since: 04/2010
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