Everything You Need to Know about the New Lane Splitting Bill
On August 1, 2016, lane-splitting bill, AB 51, has unanimously passed in the California State Senate with a 38-to-0 vote. Next, the bill will go back to the California State Assembly for “concurrence,” the process during which the house of origin must approve changes made by the second House. Just a few steps more after that (approval by the Governor and Secretary of State) and AB 51, which has been in the works for more than a year, will become law.
As it stands, California law doesn’t expressly allow or ban lane-splitting. Some critics of AB 51 believe it should remain that way. They are concerned that the explicit legalization of lane-splitting will only subject it to arbitrary restrictions down the line and possibly prohibition, ridding all motorcyclists – even those who exercise good judgment on the road – of their agency in this matter.
However, proponents of AB 51 assert that the purpose of the bill is not to restrict riders, but to define the act of lane-splitting and allow the DMV, Department of Transportation (DOT), The Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), and “a motorcycle organization focused motorcyclist safety” to educate the public on the legality of the practice, thus making the roads safer for riders.
The original version of the bill did stipulate speed restrictions, but they have been removed since then. Therefore, if the bill becomes law, all riders will still be able to use their own discretion when it comes to their speeds while lane-splitting.
Lane-splitting isn’t just for convenience’s sake. Contrary to popular belief, this practice actually makes motorcyclists safer. A recent study by U.C. Berkeley found that lane-splitting “increases safety by allowing motorcycle riders to avoid the risk of rear-end collisions in stopped or slow-moving traffic.” We hope that if (or when) AB 51 becomes law, that it improves the safety of riders while also preserving their freedom.
This information has been brought to you by the experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, call us at (800) 522-7274 for a FREE case review.