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The California Highway Patrol

California Motorcyclist Safety Program


Motorcycle Safety Information Update

Information regarding "lane splitting general guidelines" is no longer available.

A petitioner complained to the Office of Administrative Law that there was no formal rulemaking process for the guidelines, and raised other objections. The CHP discussed the issue with the Office of Administrative Law and chose not to issue, use or enforce guidelines and thus removed them from the website.

The underlying purpose of the guidelines was to provide common-sense traffic safety information.

California law does not allow or prohibit motorcycles from passing other vehicles proceeding in the same direction within the same lane, a practice often called "lane splitting," "lane sharing" or "filtering."

Creating a safer highway environment is the shared responsibility of drivers and motorcyclists alike. This is achieved by staying alert and using common sense and courtesy while on the road. It is also important for motorcyclists to minimize their risks by riding responsibly, always wearing a helmet and other protective gear and to never ride under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. Here are other important safety reminders:

  • Watch your speed-a motorcycle collision is highly likely to cause injury or death
  • Assume people in cars do not see you.
  • Avoid blind spots in other vehicles, particularly large trucks

  • The California Highway Patrol also strongly encourages all motorcycle riders to sign up for the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, which is administered by the CHP as California's official motorcycle safety and training program. The Program offers courses for new and experienced riders. Find out more about the California Motorcyclist Safety Program.


    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 Total Control Training Inc. As of March 2012, over 800,000 motorcycle riders have received training at one of the CMSP's many training sites since the program began in July 1987.

    The Motorcyclists Training Course (MTC) is a 15 hour course - five hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of actual riding. The MTC 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 MTC consisting of 7.5 hours of classroom and 13.5 hours of on-cycle time. The CHP and its partners encourage all riders to be life-long learners and seek additional training beyond the MTC and Premier programs. Find out more about the California Motorcyclist Safety Program at

    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.

    View Table 7A Fatal and Injury Collisions by Primary Collision Factor 2007-2011

    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 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, 2015. The grant is being disseminated throughout CHP field Divisions between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015.

    Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Motorcycle Safety Working Group - The MSP Unit is responsible for co-leading and participating on this dedicated challenge area. The MSP Unit is in the process of developing action items in collaboration with its partners including the Department of Motor Vehicles, California Department of Transportation, and Office of Traffic Safety.