Is Lane Splitting Legal in California? (2024)

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Motorcycle riding is a fun and exciting hobby. Whether you ride your motorcycle regularly or only bring it out on special occasions, it is important that you understand the rules of the road. Understanding road laws can help you make informed choices while you ride. It can also empower you to take action when drivers or other riders cause you harm. Lane splitting is an area that many people misunderstand. For motorcyclists and car drivers alike, it is crucial to know all about lane splitting and the laws surrounding the practice.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in California

What Is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is a common practice in which motorcyclists ride between lanes of slow-moving cars or stopped traffic. Because motorcycles are small and compact, they can fit between cars in a way that larger vehicles cannot. Because of this, many motorcyclists will ride between lanes as they drive to get to their destination faster.

Is Lane Splitting Legal?

In California, lane splitting by a motorcyclist is completely legal. In fact, riding between lanes of cars is often safer for motorcyclists than riding behind cars and trucks in regular traffic. It is easier to see the motorcyclist when they are positioned between rows of cars. Because of this, motorcyclists may lane split if traffic is moving 40 miles per hour or slower and if they are going in the direction of traffic.

Unfortunately, many car and truck drivers are unaware of unique motorcycle laws like this one. Some people attempt to block or stop motorcyclists from riding in between lanes. Ironically, the practice of intentionally blocking motorcyclists who are trying to ride between lanes is illegal. However, the act of riding between lanes on a motorcycle is not.

If you see a motorcyclist riding between lanes of traffic, do not open your door, move closer to the line, or make any other maneuver to stop them. Instead, continue driving as you are and give the motorcyclist as much room as you can while remaining safe. If you are stopped, simply remain where you are until the motorcycle passes. Any action that attempts to impede the motorcyclist could result in legal ramifications.

If you are a motorcyclist, use your lane-splitting privileges while remaining cautious and aware of your surroundings. If a driver harms you by trying to block your way, you may be able to file a personal injury claim if their actions harm you.

Lane Splitting and Personal Injury Claims

If you are a motorcyclist, and a driver harms you by trying to prevent you from lane splitting, you likely have a personal injury claim. Personal injury cases require that the person responsible was acting negligently when they harmed the victim. Failing to know the laws surrounding lane splitting, or knowing them but failing to follow them, are both examples of negligence. Drivers are required to always know and follow the road laws. Refusing to do so is neglecting one’s responsibility as a driver and makes the individual subject to legal action. Personal injury claims can help you recoup some of the financial losses associated with your accident or injury. Potential compensation includes money for:
  • Medical bills
  • Ongoing medical care
  • Mobility equipment
  • Damage to your motorcycle
  • Time spent off work to heal
  • Vocational retraining if you have to switch professions
  • Wrongful death costs
If you or a loved one has been harmed by illegal behavior on the road, you can file a personal injury claim with the help of an experienced attorney. Our team at Kreeger Law Firm is here for you.


Q: Why Does California Allow Lane Splitting?

A: Lane splitting is a safe practice as long as drivers are courteous and aware of their surroundings. It allows motorcyclists to get to their destination quickly and relieves traffic congestion. It is also generally safer for a motorcyclist to ride between lanes rather than in line with cars. They are easier to see, and there is a lower likelihood of a rear-end collision, which could be lethal.

Q: How Fast Can You Split Lanes in California?

A: Splitting lanes is only legal when traffic is moving 40 miles per hour or slower. As a motorcyclist, you are not permitted to travel more than 10 miles per hour faster than the surrounding traffic. For example, if traffic is congested and moving at 20 miles per hour, you can lane split and ride between lanes at up to 30 miles per hour. You may only do this if you are going in the direction of traffic.

Q: Can You Lane Split the HOV Lane in California?

A: No. While motorcyclists are permitted to use the HOV lane without a permit or additional passenger, you may not lane split over any solid lines. This means that lane splitting between the HOV lane and normal traffic is generally not permitted. You may, however, lane split between areas denoted by dashed lines. In other words, if passing is permitted, you can usually lane split if you are between two lanes going in the same direction.

Q: How Many U.S. States Allow Lane Splitting?

A: California is the only U.S. state that allows lane splitting by motorcyclists. All other states require that motorcyclists stay in line with traffic, regardless of how slowly the traffic is moving. If you take your motorcycle on a road trip or across state lines, it is imperative that you follow the road rules of the state that you are in. Lane splitting in other states may result in tickets or fines.

Contact Kreeger Law Firm

For nearly 30 years, our team has been fighting for individuals who have been hurt by someone else’s negligence. We understand the community, culture, and appeal of motorcycles, and we are here to ensure that your rights remain protected. If you get hurt by an ignorant or malicious driver, we can help you earn the compensation that you deserve.

For more information about our firm, our policies, or how we can represent you in your claim, contact Kreeger Law Firm online today.