Wheels Of Grace Magazine

Volume 8, Issue 6

Issue link: http://cp.revolio.com/i/774075

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Page 8 of 48

AB 51- The new law is as follows: AB 51- (1) Defines "lane spli ng" as driving a motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads or highways; (2) Authorizes the CHP to develop educa onal guidelines on lane spli ng to help ensure the safety of motorcyclists as well as drivers and passengers of surrounding vehicles; (3) Requires that the CHP, in developing the guidelines, to consult with agencies and organiza ons with an interest in road safety and motorcycle behavior, including but not limited to the Department of Motor Vehicles, Caltrans, the Office of Traffic Safety, and a motorcycle organiza on focused on motorcycle safety. The new law has many posi ves, including reducing traffic conges on and the promo on of safety. The law doesn't state what is permi ed, but authorizes the CHP to create educa onal guidelines related to safe lane-spli ng. The CHP has yet to issue guidelines, but the past CHP publica ons might be a good indica on of what's to come. More informa on about AB 51 will be available in 2017 when details of the new legisla on are further clarified and defined. AB 51 makes California the first state to legalize motorcycle lane-spli ng and it is likely that other states will follow in California's footsteps. One of my recent cases involved a motorcyclist who had been safely lane-spli ng between the HOV lane and the fast lane for approximately 3 miles without interrup on. The motorcyclist was traveling at approximately 30 miles per hour, 5 miles per hour faster than the traffic on either side of him. Suddenly, the defendant driver changed lanes from the HOV lane to the fast lane and struck the motorcyclist dead on because he didn't see him lane-spli ng. The motorcyclist sustained life changing catastrophic injuries as a result of the collision. What was the defendant driver's defense? He claimed the motorcyclist was traveling illegally by lane-spli ng and had no business spli ng lanes. WRONG. Unfortunately, this was not an uncommon allega on coming from a driver of a motor vehicle. Lane-spli ng enrages many motor vehicle drivers who believe that it is inherently dangerous and done solely for the purpose of an unfair way to get ahead of traffic. The defendant's allega ons that my client, the motorcyclist, caused the accident by lane-spli ng would fail 10 out of 10 mes in a court of law, and they failed here too. My client was found not to be at fault because he was lane-spli ng safely and had every right to do so. It was determined that the defendant motorist caused this accident by making an unsafe lane change and not being observant of the surrounding traffic. The message for motor vehicle drivers as to lane splitting in California is as follows: • Lane spli ng is legal in California! • Motorists should not discourage motorcyclists from lane spli ng • Inten onally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the motorcyclist is illegal per California Vehicle Code Sec on 22400 • Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist is illegal per California Vehicle Code Sec on 22517 • Never drive while distracted • Always be aware of the traffic around you

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