Lane Splitting and Motorcycles
In January of 2018, Arizona will consider Bill SB 1007 which allows for lane-splitting by motorcyclists. This is the second go around for a lane splitting bill in Arizona, the last time being in 2010. This time, the bill is being introduced by the Senator of Arizona, David Farnsworth.
Included in the bill are educational guidelines to be proposed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. As expected, the bill is not without controversy.
When it comes to lane splitting, lawmakers and motorcyclists focus on the controversial study and results in California known as AB 51 or the Berkeley Study. In California, lane-splitting while illegal, was always tolerated by law enforcement, so California decided on passing the law legalizing it.
The problem with lane splitting is fact versus fiction. In one blog I wrote the perception of lane splitting and what car drivers consider lane splitting to be. There is no doubt like a campaign against drunk driving and now texting and driving, the public needs to be educated to avoid an “us versus them” mentality which most of us are already facing when riding a motorcycle.
The California/Berkeley Study results were as follows:
- Motorcyclists who were lane-splitting were notably different from those that were not lane-splitting. Compared with other motorcyclists, lane-splitting motorcyclists were more often riding on weekdays and during commute hours, were using better helmets, and were traveling at lower speeds.”
- “Lane-splitting riders were also less likely to have been using alcohol and less likely to have been carrying a passenger.”
- “Lane-splitting motorcyclists were also injured much less frequently during their collisions.”
- “Lane splitting riders were less likely to suffer head injury (9% vs 17%), torso injury (19% vs 29%), extremity injury (60% vs 66%), and fatal injury (1.2% vs 3.0%). Lane-splitting motorcyclists were equally likely to suffer neck injury, compared with non-lane-splitting motorcyclists.”
- “Traffic speed and motorcycle speed differential (the difference between motorcycle speed and traffic speed) were important in predicting the occurrence of injury.”
- “There was no meaningful increase in injury incidence until traffic speed exceeded roughly 50 MPH. Motorcycle speed differential was a stronger predictor of injury outcomes.”
- “Lane-splitting appears to be a relatively safe motorcycle riding strategy if done in traffic moving at 50 MPH or less and if motorcyclists do not exceed the speed of other vehicles by more than 15 MPH. A significant number of motorcyclists lane-split in fast-moving traffic or at excessive speed differentials. These riders could lower their risk of injury by restricting the environments in which they lane-split and by reducing their speed differential when they do choose to lane split.”
- “The findings from this analysis suggest that countermeasures to alter the way motorcyclists lane-split are likely to result in reductions in injury. Many motorcyclists may not understand how lane-splitting at excessive traffic speed creates unnecessary risk.”
- “It is in high-speed environments where lane-splitting has the lowest benefit to the motorcyclist, and high-speed lane-splitting could be reduced or eliminated from California roadways without significant loss of the overall potential benefits of lane-splitting, which include reductions in fuel consumption, emissions, and traffic congestion.”
- “Riders may also be unaware that the speed differential at which they lane-split is highly predictive of injury occurrence. There has been considerable discussion in the motorcycling community that lane-splitting should be done only at lower speed differentials.”
- “Our findings suggest that riders who adopt a 10 or 15 MPH speed differential practice may reduce their exposure to injury risk.”
The full blog on the Berkeley Study could be read here.
Alexander Hernandez, Esq.