Whether you ride a motorcycle in California or are exacerbated by the number of motorcycles that whiz by you on your daily commute, you likely wonder, is lane splitting safe? An exhaustive study by the University of California Berkeley, the findings of which the Los Angeles Times shares, suggests that yes, lane splitting is safe.
Lane splitting — also known as filtering, white-lining, stripe-riding and lane sharing — refers to the practice of maneuvering a motorcycle between rows or lanes of stopped or slow moving vehicles. The theory behind making this practice legal is that it saves riders time and reduces traffic congestion. However, lane splitting is extremely controversial, with many states declaring it “unsafe,” hence the reason California is the only state to have legalized it.
UC Berkeley set out to support the state’s decision to legalize white-lining. In its research, it found that lane splitting motorcycle operators who were involved in crashes were considerably less likely to sustain serious injury in the accidents than those who did not split lanes immediately preceding the incident.
Findings from the study also prompted researchers to propose a speed differential of 15 mph and a top speed of 50 mph. If motorcyclists kept their speeds within 15 mph of that of surrounding traffic, and if they did not exceed 50 mph when splitting lanes, they were less likely to sustain a torso, head or extremity injury during the crash.
Furthermore, the study reveals that motorcyclists who split lanes are, in general, safer riders than their non-white lining counterparts. Lane sharers wore better helmets, were less likely to ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol and were less likely to speed.
For the cherry on top, riders who partake in stripe-riding are less likely to get rear-ended. This is because lane splitting allows riders to remove themselves from dangerous situations quickly.