Study Proves Drivers Are Out To Kill Motorcyclists

Illustration for article titled Study Proves Drivers Are Out To Kill Motorcyclists

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.

Email us with the subject line "Syndication" if you would like to see your own story syndicated here on Jalopnik.

Photo Credit: Orientaly /

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BoxerFanatic, troublesome iconoclast.

Not necessarily for the purposes of lane-splitting, but regarding the issue of immature riders putting themselves in danger on bikes that are too fast for them, which was being discussed...

I don't see why the motorcycle manufacturers don't figure that out, and produce street bikes for the street riders.

The people who like race-rep bikes tend to be young, and fashion-driven.

Make a 250 or 500cc bike that looks just like the MotoGP or Superbike bikes. Even give it very good suspension hardware, not the cheap wet-noodle crap that doesn't teach anyone precise control, but make it the appropriate power level for novice street riders.

Make the 600 SS/RR bikes, and the 1000CC versions as limited homologation editions, with high price tags, and track-ready settings, and make them BARELY street legal, or maybe even NOT street legal. They are getting to the point where they are barely useful at street speeds anyway, and they aren't built for highway distances. Anybody hooning a bike like that on the highway in traffic is making a big mistake. Take it to the track.

Make those homologation bikes the choice of the riders who ARE at that level, and who ride on a track environment, where it can be used.

Make the street bikes appropriate for the street, for novice riders, as well as up-rated models of street bikes with 900-1200cc engines for experienced riders.

Make the street bikes look every bit as cool as the race-bikes that the enthusiasts see on racing coverage. No dumbing down on the other aspects, except a real-world appropriate amount of power, and make them affordable.

Old classic Nortons and Triumphs, and the bikes that are now lauded as classics and cafe racers, were full size bikes were doing VERY well if they had 80-100 horsepower. Modern sport bikes weigh less, and have almost twice that much power. That is like trying to drive an F1 car in surface-street traffic.

500-100hp in a street bike of ~380-450lbs is fine, and tuned to be tractable and not an abrupt light-switch of instant power at 6000RPMs is even better for teaching someone how to CONTROL a bike on the street.

I worry more about kids on mopeds weaving through traffic, than on a motorcycle. A motorcycle at least can get out of a car's way. A moped or scooter often cannot.

There has to be some middle ground between a rolling obstacle like a moped that I see ever more kids on, in this down-economy, and an expensive, overly-powerful supersport race replica, simply because "I can buy it."

And existing 250-750cc motorcycles are compromised in ways that are obvious to any motorcyclist, as cheaper also-rans, and not the coolest bike in the lineup. A fashion-driven new rider who doesn't have the experience is going to choose the fashionable bike, and pass by the more pedestrian looking, and lesser equipped bike that in reality would be easier to ride, easier to learn, more survivable, and actually MORE FUN by being less terrifying and mis-matched for both the rider, and the street.

All the sport standards are gone, because they weren't popular. They weren't made with popularity in mind... the race replicas were made to be the popular ones, even if that meant they were the less well suited for the street, or the novice riders who flock to those bikes because they are cool.

There is no way on earth I would buy an S1000RR BMW. Not a chance. Yet the street bikes I want are all cancelled. No more 850cc boxer bmws... and the F-series parallel twins are VERY de-contented from the rest of the lineup, and don't have the better suspension or shaft drive.

The R1200S and it's R1100S predecessor are gone. The R1200R is not an alternative to a half-faired, better-equipped S.

The K1200R-Sport, a great balance between the brutality of the K1200R, and the full-tupperware K1200S, is also gone, and now the US doesn't even get The R anymore, either.

The same goes for just about any other brand... the flag ship bikes are the least rideable in the real world, and the real-world bikes are under-equipped, and not as good looking.

Does anyone put a nice, tractable engine that isn't a racer, in a truly stellar bike with great style, good ergos and some wind protection, with the versatility to be a good solo rider, but also accept a passenger or bags, and actually top-shelf suspension and brake hardware?