Jun 18, 2012

California, the Exception?

One of the silly arguments I get often during lane-splitting and lane-sharing discussions is "Californians are different. They're used to it." A recent CalTrans survey beat that horse to death this spring. The Office of Traffic Safety sent out a short-form version of the 733 participant survey, in case statistics aren't your deal.

It turns out that only 53% of California's cagers know that lane splitting is legal (with younger drivers being more clueless than older) and 86.8% of them have experienced lane splitting, 87% of the state's motorcyclists lane split, 5.3% have had their vehicle hit by a lane-splitting motorcyclist and 34.6% say they were "nearly hit," 19.1% claim to have seen a motorcycle hit a car while splitting, and 7% of the cagers admit to having attempted to prevent lane splitting. Most important, 63.1% disapprove of motorcycle lane-splitting. Not surprisingly, more women disapprove than men.

In an Orange County Register article on the subject and the results of the survey, a police officer said, "It's legal to split lanes but you can't do it if it's going to be in violation of speed limits or if you're going to be going at a speed that's significantly faster than the traffic through which you're trying to move." That's an accurate summary of the law as it was explained to my by a CHIPs officer in a 1984 California Traffic School. If you watch YouTube videos of idiots splitting lanes at high speed, it's no wonder that most people think this behavior is illegal; it is.

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