Lane splitting in a safe and prudent manner is not illegal in the state of California. The
term lane splitting, sometimes known as lane sharing, filtering or white-lining, refers to
the process of a motorcyclist riding between lanes of stopped or slower moving traffic or
moving between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a traffic light.
In all cases, the CHP urges extreme caution when splitting lanes.
Lane Splitting - Getting home safely is everyone's responsibility.
The CHP presents Thrill or Buzz Kill?, a motorcycle safety video reminding
motorcyclists about the added responsibility and attention the road demands.
California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) - The CHP is statutorily responsible
for California's official motorcycle safety training program. Pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 2930-2935,
the CHP administers the program through a primary contractor, currently the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. As of March
2012, over 800,000 motorcycle riders have received training at one of the CMSP's 134 training sites since the program
began in July 1987.
The program consists of a 15-hour classroom and on-cycle Basic RiderCourse (BRC). The BRC is mandatory for those under
the age of 21 but is also recommended to those 21 and older who are seeking to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on their
California driver license. The CMSP also offers the Premier Program which is an extended BRC consisting of 7.5 hours of
classroom and 13.5 hours of on-cycle time. While not part of the CMSP, the CHP and its partners encourage all riders to
be life long learners. Riders can refresh or enhance skills at a Basic RiderCourse2. A website,
www.ca-msp.org, serves as the training course referral service. Find out more about the
California Motorcyclist Safety Program.
Data received from the California Office of Traffic Safety shows:
Motorcycle fatalities in California increased 175% in ten years, from 204 in 1998 to 560 in 2008.
These increases in motorcyclist deaths occurred at a time when significant gains were achieved
in other areas of traffic safety. Although we did experience reductions in motorcycle fatalities
in 2009 and 2010, preliminary 2011 data indicates a possible increase and motorcyclists are
over represented in overall numbers of traffic deaths.
A class of beginning motorcycle riders receive instruction.
California Motorcycle-Involved Statistics - Between 1986 and 1999, California enjoyed a
13-year decline in motorcycle-involved fatal and severe injury collisions. However, starting in 1999, these numbers
steadily increased over a 10-year period peaking in 2008. It is important to note, however, that according to 2009 and
2010 data, motorcycle-involved fatal and injury collisions are down significantly.
Despite the strides in reducing motorcyclist fatality and injury collisions over the past couple of years, statistics on
motorcyclists show a disproportionate rate of collisions compared to numbers of riders and to other traffic. A National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration report shows that for the same per-mile exposure, motorcyclists are roughly 28
times more likely to die than occupants of other vehicles.
Another conspicuous trend involves the number of motorcyclist fatalities and age. Several groups of riders are
over represented, compared to their presence within the motorcycle riding population. For example, a small percentage of
the motorcycle operators are riders aged 15-19 (4 percent) and 20-24 (6 percent), yet represent nearly twice that
percentage of fatalities (11-13 percent). A second group of riders over represented according to their presence in the
population is riders aged 25-54. It should also be noted that 90 percent of the fatal victims are male.
The primary cause for 59 percent of the motorcycle collisions were attributed to three factors: unsafe speed, improper
turning, and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Lastly, 65 percent of the fatal and 56 percent of the injury motorcycle-involved collisions were the fault of the motorcyclist.
Motorcycle Helmets - Repeated attempts to repeal California's motorcycle helmet law and substitute
it with a lesser version requiring those under 18 to wear a United States Department of Transportation compliant
helmet have failed in the state legislature. Statistical information continue to support the helmet law, but some
adult riders have been advocating its repeal from the moment the law went into effect on January 1, 1992. Advocates
of repeal contend it is a matter of individual choice whether to wear a helmet or not, and a personal right to
decide whether to take the risk. The idea that motorcyclists over 21 should be exempt from the requirement for
helmets completely ignores some other facts that prompted passage of the helmet law. In 1987, before the law was
passed, 77 percent of motorcyclist fatalities involved victims over the age of 21, with 69 percent of those
injured over the age of 21.
Motorcycle Safety Grants: The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is implementing a 12-month traffic safety grant
to reduce motorcycle-involved collisions on popular roadways and mountain range areas throughout California. To maximize
enforcement efforts, each CHP Division has identified and is concentrating on problematic locations on routes within their
respective Areas, where motorcycle-involved collisions are the highest. Grant activities include enhanced enforcement, a
public awareness and educational campaign, and a paid media campaign has been launched to show "share the road" Public Service
Announcements. The project ends September 30, 2014. The grant is being disseminated throughout CHP field Divisions between
October 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014.
Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Challenge Area 12, Improve Motorcycle Safety - The MSP Unit is responsible
for co-leading and participating on this dedicated challenge area. A most recent accomplishment was the internal development
and distribution of a 12-minute DVD, 700 Gs, It's a Killer, which provides education about proper and legal motorcycle
safety helmets. The MSP Unit is in the process of developing additional action items in collaboration with its partners
including the Department of Motor Vehicles, California Department of Transportation, and Office of Traffic Safety. Action
items are expected to commence in October 2011 with a target date of completion for most items to be October 2013.