is lane splitting legal in california

Lane splitting, the practice of motorcycles maneuvering between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic, is a topic of great interest and debate among riders and drivers alike. In California, it’s a practice that has stirred controversy and confusion for years.


This blog post aims to answer the question: is lane splitting legal in California? We discuss California lane splitting law, the safety considerations involved, and what riders and motorists need to know. Additionally, we’ll talk about the importance of being informed and knowing your rights when it comes to motorcycle safety on California roads.



Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?

Lane splitting, often referred to as “white-lining,” involves motorcycles moving between lanes on a roadway to bypass slower or stopped traffic. This maneuver can be particularly advantageous for riders, allowing them to reduce travel time and minimize the risk of overheating in congested traffic.


Lane splitting is often confused with lane filtering, which involves motorcycles moving to the front of stopped traffic at a red light. Lane splitting is currently legal in California, making it the only state in the US to allow this practice.


Is it dangerous? Splitting lanes comes with its fair share of risks, as it may lead to close encounters with vehicles that aren’t expecting the sudden presence of a motorcycle. Thus, riders opting to split lanes must exhibit exceptional skill and caution, constantly staying alert to changing traffic conditions and potential hazards.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in California Law?

is lane splitting legal in california law

One of the primary reasons lane splitting remains a hot topic is the variation in regulations from state to state. In California, lane splitting is unique in that it’s the only state in the U.S. where it is explicitly recognized and permitted under certain conditions.


The California Vehicle Code, Section 21658.1 (California lane splitting law), defines lane splitting as follows: “The driver of a motorcycle shall not pass another vehicle in the same lane occupied by the other vehicle, except under the following conditions:

  • The other vehicle is stopped or moving at a speed of 30 miles per hour or less.
  • The driver of the motorcycle is traveling at a speed of not more than 30 miles per hour.
  • In addition to the conditions set forth in this subdivision, the driver of a motorcycle shall not pass another vehicle in the same lane occupied by the other vehicle if that action would not be safe and prudent.”

So is lane splitting legal in California? The answer is yes — but there are conditions. This legal recognition allows motorcyclists in California to lane split legally under the specified conditions, provided they do so safely and prudently. It’s important to note that exceeding the 30 mph speed limit for both the motorcyclist and the traffic being passed is illegal.

Lane Splitting in California:
Who is At Fault in an Accident?

Responsibility is often a key factor in determining fault in any motor vehicle accident. In the case of lane splitting, both the motorcyclist and the driver of the other vehicle have responsibilities to ensure safety on the road.


The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has set guidelines for safe lane splitting, including maintaining a speed no more than 30 mph faster than surrounding traffic, using turn signals when changing lanes, and avoiding splitting between large vehicles such as trucks and buses. These guidelines are meant to protect both motorcyclists and other drivers on the road.


In an accident involving a lane-splitting motorcyclist, fault will be determined based on several factors. If the rider was adhering to CHP’s guidelines and taking necessary precautions, they may not be found at fault. However, if the rider was going at high speeds, weaving in and out of traffic, or otherwise engaging in reckless behavior, they may be held accountable for causing the accident.


But it’s not just the motorcyclist who has a responsibility to ensure safety on the road. Drivers of other vehicles must also be aware of lane-splitting laws and take necessary precautions when sharing the road with motorcyclists. This includes checking mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes, giving motorcyclists enough space to maneuver between lanes, and refraining from aggressive driving behaviors that could endanger those on two wheels.

California Lane Splitting Law: Safety Considerations for Lane Sharing

While lane splitting is legal in California, safety remains paramount. The California lane splitting law notes guidelines to ensure lane splitting safety. Some safety guidelines include:

  1. Riding within the 30 mph speed limit for both the motorcyclist and the surrounding traffic.
  2. Exercising extra caution in adverse weather conditions, at night, or when visibility is reduced.
  3. Avoiding lane splitting near large vehicles like buses and trucks, as they may have blind spots.
  4. Staying vigilant and prepared to react to unexpected movements of other vehicles.
  5. Using your motorcycle’s headlights to increase visibility to other motorists.

As mentioned, both motorcyclists and drivers share responsibilities on the road. Motorcyclists should exercise caution and adhere to traffic laws. Drivers of other vehicles must also remain vigilant and avoid making sudden lane changes or swerves that could endanger motorcyclists.

Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident? Get Legal Help From our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers. Free Consultation.

Navigating the legal intricacies surrounding motorcycle lane splitting in California can be challenging. RTM Law understands the importance of advocating for motorcyclists’ rights and safety on the road. If you find yourself in a legal situation related to lane splitting, or if you have been involved in an accident, our team of experienced motorcycle accident attorneys is here to provide expert legal guidance.

Is lane splitting legal in California? Yes, lane splitting in California is not only legal but also subject to specific conditions designed to road safety. Motorcyclists must exercise caution and follow the law, while other drivers should be aware of motorcyclists’ rights and responsibilities.

RTM Law is committed to supporting motorcyclists in California by providing legal assistance when needed. If you have any questions or require legal guidance related to lane splitting or motorcycle accidents, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced personal injury attorneys.




    We Help Accident Victims File
    a Personal Injury Claim in California

    Our California personal injury attorneys handle a wide range of personal injury claims in several areas, including:

    ✔ Anaheim, CA
    ✔ Bakersfield, CA

    ✔ Buena Park, CA
    ✔ Chula Vista, CA
    ✔ Compton, CA
    ✔ Costa Mesa, CA
    ✔ Dana Point, CA
    ✔ Fountain Valley, CA
    ✔ Glendale, CA
    ✔ Huntington Beach, CA
    ✔ Inglewood, CA

    ✔ Irvine, CA
    ✔ Laguna Beach, CA

    ✔ Laguna Hills, CA
    ✔ Laguna Niguel, CA
    ✔ Long Beach, CA
    ✔ Los Angeles, CA
    ✔ Mission Viejo, CA
    ✔ Newport Beach, CA
    ✔ Orange County, CA
    ✔ Pasadena, CA
    ✔ Riverside, CA

    ✔ San Bernardino, CA
    ✔ San Clemente, CA

    ✔ San Diego, CA
    ✔ San Juan Capistrano, CA
    ✔ Santa Ana, CA
    ✔ Seal Beach, CA
    ✔ Torrance, CA
    ✔ Tustin, CA
    ✔ Visalia, CA

    ✔ Vista, CA
    ✔ Westminster, CA