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New Bill seeks to recognize lane splitting

California is often considered to be at the cutting edge of progressive legislation, and is often among the first states to formally recognize or legalize practices long before the rest of the country catches up. The practice of motorcyclists engaging in lane splitting is only the latest to receive the Golden State's official treatment. State assembly members recently passed legislation giving the California Highway Patrol the power to formally determine how motorists may safely and legally practice lane splitting.

Lane Splitting, which entails a motorcyclist moving between other motor vehicles in two adjacent traffic lanes, has been living in a legal gray area for years, and has been treated with de facto legality by law enforcement for many years. Now, with bill AB 51, the practice is being formalized. While the bill itself does very little to define the specifics of how lane splitting will be legally allowed, other than loosely defining a "lane," it does grant the CHP the power to make such determinations.

In it's initial form, AB 51, the bill suggested that lane splitting should be allowed only when the motorcyclist was traveling no more than 15 miles per hour faster than surrounding traffic, and only at total speeds lower than 50 miles per hour. These restrictions were met with great opposition by multiple motorcyclist's rights advocacy groups, resulting in this language being removed is subsequent iterations of the bill before it was passed.

Bill AB 51 is being heralded for taking seriously the need for motorcyclists and other motorists to understand the practice or lane splitting. Regardless of the legality of the practice, it is often a factor in motor vehicle accidents, which may end in injury or death. Those who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of the nature of the losses, will find that the representation of an experienced attorney can help protect their rights and ensure that their losses are fairly compensated.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "California takes first step to establishing lane-splitting guidelines for motorcyclists," Jazmine Ulloa, Aug. 05, 2016

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