California Removes Motorcycle Lane Splitting Guidelines

July 28, 2014

The California Highway Patrol has taken down safety guidelines for a sometimes criticized but legal driving maneuver in which motorcyclists pass stalled traffic by driving between lanes.speeding motorcycle

State officials were worried the guidelines for so-called lane splitting could be misconstrued as enforceable laws, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday. The CHP took them down from its website about two weeks ago under orders from the state’s Office of Administrative Law.

The tips have also been removed from materials distributed by the CHP, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Office of Traffic Safety, the Chronicle reported.

“People liked the guidelines and appreciated them,” CHP Officer Mike Harris, an agency spokesman, said. “But some people had thought they were given as rules or laws that can be enforced by the department.”

Lane splitting is legal in California, though car and truck drivers often complain it is dangerous. The guidelines – published on the CHP’s website last year – were hailed as a way of imposing some order on the practice.

They advised motorcyclists to ride between vehicles at speeds no more than 10 miles-per-hour faster than the vehicles they were passing. They also suggested that motorcyclists not attempt the move at full freeway speeds, or in any traffic going faster than 30 mph, and said it was typically safer to split between the lanes farthest to the left than between other lanes.

Nick Haris, with the American Motorcyclist Association, said he was disappointed to see the guidelines removed.

“A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into creating those guidelines,” Haris told the Chronicle. “It’s a pity to see it so quickly removed.”

Research suggests lane splitting could be less dangerous to motorcyclists than forcing them during traffic jams to stay in their lane, where even minor contact with a distracted driver could be disastrous, according to the American Motorcyclist Association.

But some drivers say motorcyclists should follow the same rules as everyone else.

Manu Khosla, of San Francisco, said he has seen motorcyclists scrape cars as they drive by.

“It’s not just about the cars, though,” Khosla, 33, told the Chronicle. “It seems like somebody could easily get hurt.”

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