According to a survey conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety, the majority of car drivers are unaware that lane splitting is a legal practice. A small minority, seven percent, admitted to researchers that they'd actively tried to prevent lane splitting. Despite that, the vast majority, 84.4 percent of riders, have never had an incident while splitting.
A lot of what's in this report is statistical confirmation of common sense and what you and I observe every day:
- The vast majority of riders are male (93.4 percent) and middle aged (30.4 percent are 45-54).
- Most riders use motorcycles only for leisure (45.9 percent), but plenty use them for both commuting and leisure riding (30.8 percent).
- More riders lane split on freeways (77.6 percent) than on surface streets (63.9 percent)
- You're more likely to be hit by a car while lane splitting on the freeway (11.7 percent) than on surface streets (8.3 percent
- Only 1.7 percent of riders admit to splitting while traffic is traveling at 70mph or faster.
- 10mph above the speed of traffic is the most popular splitting pace (42.1 percent).
- Distracted drivers (30.0 percent) and drivers not bothering to check mirrors before changing lanes (32.5 percent) are seen as the biggest dangers.
- You're more likely to lane split the more often you ride.
The study is timed to coincide with the launch of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, in which the state will pay lip service to driver awareness, but the drivers will be too busy texting to notice.
"OMG, did u watch Idol????"
"Totez. Just hit a bike. LOL"
It'll be ignored, but the OTS issues the following advice to motorists on how to avoid hitting a biker while texting:
- 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.
Helpfully, there's also advice for keeping yourself alive:
- 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 conspicuity;
- Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers; and
Never driving while impaired.
Hand signals and reflective tape? Yeah, some bureaucrat is still convinced it's 1962. For better advice, check out our comprehensive guide to lane splitting. And watch out for all those intercept surveyors out there.
This story originally appeared on Hell For Leather on May 7, 2012, and was republished with permission.
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