Is lane splitting safe for motorcycles?
Lane splitting – the practice of driving along the dotted lines in between traffic lanes – is safer for motorcyclists than driving in designated traffic lanes, according to a study recently published by the University of California, Berkeley. And, California lawmakers are now considering a law to legalize it.
In California, the traffic evasion tactic is neither explicitly legal nor illegal, and if the law passes, California would become the first state to officially legalize lane splitting. Laws regarding this act of toggling between driving lanes varies from state to state, and in Illinois the practice is illegal.
The proposed bill would allow motorcyclists to split lanes as long as they travel under 50 mph and travel no more than 15 mph faster than traffic, as the study finds that lane splitting is safest within these parameters. The proposal has shed a new light on motorcycle safety, a hot topic during the summer months when bikers are most likely to hit the open road.
Dr. Dipul Patadia, an emergency medicine physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., has treated countless motorcycle crash victims over the years. Although he is neither in favor nor against the proposal, Dr. Patadia urges motorcyclists take the necessary precautions when driving on the road and drivers be aware of motorcycles on the road.
“Helmets save lives,” Dr. Patadia says. “Many times a helmet can be the difference between life and death for a motorcyclist who is involved in a crash.”
Dr. Patadia also urges drivers to be aware of increased motorcycle use during the summer. He recommends drivers put down their cell phones and be alert, especially when checking their blind spots, because motorcycles can be quick, small and difficult to see when changing lanes.
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