Westbound I-80 traffic congestion, photos courtesy: triptelska
SACRAMENTO, CA - A first-ever survey on "lane-splitting" - when motorcyclists travel between traffic lanes with other vehicles moving in the same direction - indicates just 53 percent of drivers know the practice is legal.
The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) survey also found seven percent of drivers admitted to having tried to prevent motorcyclists from lane-splitting.
Eighty-seven percent of motorcyclists surveyed say they split lanes.
OTS released their findings in corroberation with the designation of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. According to National Highway Safety Administration research, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 39 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes. In 2009, motorcycle deaths began to decline after 10 years of increasing. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 39 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes.
OTS and the California Highway Patrol have advice for "sharing the road" safely and the onus is on drivers:
- Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Don't be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle - motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
- Allow more following distance - three or four seconds - when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
- Never drive while distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Motorcyclists can increase their safety by:
- Avoiding riding in poor weather conditions
- Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet
- Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it
- Combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves
- Using reflective tape and stickers to increase visibility
- Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers
- Never driving while impaired.