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Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycle Lane Spliting on the Highway

If you drive a motorcycle or are obtaining a motorcycle license, here's a look at where lane splitting is legal and the guidelines for performing lane splitting safely. One of the most confusing aspects of driving a motorcycle is understanding what lane splitting is. Lane splitting is a term that refers specifically to motorcycles as well as similar two-wheeled vehicles and is something that every driver should understand before operating a motorcycle in order to avoid any trouble with the law. In essence, lane splitting refers to the act of a motorcycle moving in between two separate vehicle lanes in order to pass the cars ahead. These lanes will be moving forward in the same direction as the motorcycle

Guidelines and Legality of Lane Splitting

If you drive a motorcycle or are obtaining a motorcycle license, here's a look at where lane splitting is legal and the guidelines for performing lane splitting safely.

Introduction to Lane Splitting

One of the most confusing aspects of driving a motorcycle is understanding what lane splitting is. Lane splitting is a term that refers specifically to motorcycles as well as similar two-wheeled vehicles and is something that every driver should understand before operating a motorcycle in order to avoid any trouble with the law. In essence, lane splitting refers to the act of a motorcycle moving in between two separate vehicle lanes in order to pass the cars ahead. These lanes will be moving forward in the same direction as the motorcycle.

Although many countries outside of the United States allow lane splitting, it is a contentious issue throughout America that is still largely illegal. The primary reason that it still remains illegal throughout many states is due mainly to the fact that safety is considered to be a major issue when lane splitting, particularly with the possibility of vehicle doors opening and hitting the motorcycle and its driver as well as other types of vehicles suddenly changing lanes. While it is possible that lane splitting will become legal in all states eventually, there are no current bills being proposed at the level that would be needed for illegality of lane splitting to be overturned.

States in Which Lane Splitting is Legal

When looking at the states in which lane splitting has been legalized, there are four specific terms that you will need to be aware of. These terms are Authorized, Not Authorized, Prohibited and Not Referenced. Overall, California is the only state that has fully stated that lane splitting is completely legal. This was put into law by the California Highway Patrol, or CHP. Though this is the case, Oregon is the only state in which it's explicitly stated that the act of lane splitting is illegal. Motorcycle drivers in Arkansas will find that lane splitting is not referenced and therefore not technically illegal.

Every other state lies in a murky middle ground wherein lane splitting is not explicitly illegal but is instead considered to be non-authorized. This means that while not fully prohibited, you will be cited by a police officer on most occasions when caught lane splitting. In some non-authorized states, such as Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, you can be cited by police officers if you are caught employing lane splitting tactics while driving on a motorcycle, except in the case where lane splitting occurs when motorcycles are riding two abreast.

Guidelines for Lane Splitting

Despite the fact that the CHP, or California Highway Patrol, removed the guidelines they had placed online that had focused on the proper precautions to take when lane splitting, these guidelines are essential for anyone driving a motorcycle in California. Being unaware of these guidelines can put you in a risky situation where you aren't sure of how to properly react when lane splitting. Thankfully, these guidelines haven't been lost forever. Here's a look at some of the primary guidelines as stated by the CHP.

1. Travel at a speed that is no more than 10 MPH faster than other traffic -- danger increases at higher speed differentials. 2. It is not advisable to lane split when traffic flow is at 30 MPH or faster -- danger increases as overall speed increases. 3. Typically, it is safer to split between the #1 and #2 lanes than between other lanes. 4. Consider the total environment in which you are splitting, including the width of the lanes, size of surrounding vehicles as well as roadway, weather and lighting conditions. 5. Be alert and anticipate possible movements by other road users.

The CHP has also created the four R's of lane splitting, which are as follows:

Reasonable means not more than 10 MPH faster than traffic flow and not over 39 MPH.  You are Responsible for your own safety and decisions. Don't put yourself in dangerous positions, and if you can't fit, don't split. It's important to be Respectful to other drivers. You are sharing the road with others, which is why you need to show them the same courtesy you would expect them to show you. Don't believe that a motorcycles loud pipes are enough to warn other drivers as that very loudness can easily startle them, resulting in erratic behavior. Heavy Traffic can make for dangerous situations that are brought about by drivers who are distracted, poor weather conditions, upcoming curves and even large trucks.

In order to ensure that motorcyclists keep other drivers safe, the CHP has provided a list of moments when it is not advisable to lane split.

- If there's little space - If traffic is going forward at exceedingly high speeds - If you face unpredictable conditions on the road -- examples mentioned previously - If you are unsure of how to make it out of the space you're entering - When the road consists of wider vehicles - When traveling around curves - If you aren't sure of what your surroundings consist of - If you do not have the capacity to react instantaneously - If you are uncomfortable with the potential situation

How These Guidelines Can Help with Safety

While the guidelines stated and published by the California Highway Patrol are designed to provide safety when lane splitting for both the rider of the motorcycle and the drivers of other vehicles, it's important to understand how these guidelines can help you. For one, they do not guarantee your safety when you're attempting lane splitting, but they can help to increase the chances that neither you or the driver of another vehicle will be injured.

Experience is an important factor for anyone that is considering lane splitting while riding a motorcycle. Lane splitting is one of the most difficult tasks to perform safely when on a motorcycle, which is why it's essential that only those experienced in operating a motorcycle should be attempting this. It's also exceedingly important to wear a motorcycle helmet at all times while riding a motorcycle, particularly when lane splitting. While not all states require the usage of a helmet, California is one of the states that does.

Lastly, it's important to understand that while it is legal in California to undergo a lane split when riding a motorcycle, it is still very much possible that a police officer will pull you over and hand you a citation if they feel as though you were driving recklessly, which is the primary reason why it's so important that you utilize the aforementioned guidelines when lane splitting. If you want to know more about motorcycle laws and how to earn a motorcycle license, you should peruse the California DMV Motorcycle Operator Manual. Also, if you're considering an attempt to earn your Motorcycle permit for the first time, take our Motorcycle Practice Test in preparation.

Top Riding Tips for First-Time Motorcycle Owners

Few activities are more exhilarating than riding a motorcycle for the first time. Motorcycles offer a fun ride and a fuel-efficient way to get around. However despite their benefits motorcycles can be deadly when used improperly. The following are some top riding tips for first-time motorcycle owners.
Few activities are more exhilarating than riding a motorcycle for the first time. Motorcycles offer a fun ride and a fuel-efficient way to get around. However despite their benefits motorcycles can be deadly when used improperly. The following are some top riding tips for first-time motorcycle owners.

Few activities are more exhilarating than riding a motorcycle for the first time. Motorcycles offer a fun ride and a fuel-efficient way to get around. However despite their benefits motorcycles can be deadly when used improperly. The following are some top riding tips for first-time motorcycle owners.

Know the Law

Before you hit the open road be sure that you are properly licensed. Depending on your state̢��‰�s laws you may be required to take a special motorcycle license test to obtain a motorcycle permit or license. If your state requires this taking a DMV practice test can help you learn what to expect.

Buy a Helmet

It is always a good idea to wear a helmet even if your state does not require it. When choosing a motorcycle helmet there are two basic types that you will find: full face and three-quarter. Helmets that have face shields can help protect you from bugs debris wind and other inclement weather. Although some drivers prefer goggles over face shields it is worth nothing that they leave much of your face unprotected.

Make Yourself Visible

Wearing reflective clothing and gear can be a life saver. It is important to always make sure that you are clearly visible to drivers at any time of the day or night. In addition to wearing reflective clothing bright colors can also help increase your visibility.

Check the Weather

Before getting on the road take some time to check the weather. Try to avoid weather like rain or snow as it can make the roads slick. This can increase your chances of being involved in an accident.

Keep up with Maintenance

As a motorcycle owner it is critical that you keep your bike properly maintained at all times. Before leaving the house always make sure that your brakes and lights are in full working order.

Drive Defensively

Although you and other drivers have a responsibility to share the road never assume that a driver can see you. Driving defensively every time is the best way to ride. Your first motorcycle ride is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Follow these quick tips and you will be well on your way to a safe ride every time.

Five Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

While some people ride motorcycles for recreation others rely on them for fuel-efficient transportation. Unfortunately motorcycles also offer less protection for you or your passenger in case of an accident.
While some people ride motorcycles for recreation others rely on them for fuel-efficient transportation. Unfortunately motorcycles also offer less protection for you or your passenger in case of an accident. In fact motorcycle accidents are 35 times more likely to result in death than car accidents are according to data from the federal government for 2006. This study compared the number of deaths for each type of vehicle per mile traveled. Motorcycle accidents are inherently dangerous because riders lack the security that comes from being belted inside the protective shell of a metal vehicle.

While some people ride motorcycles for recreation others rely on them for fuel-efficient transportation. Unfortunately motorcycles also offer less protection for you or your passenger in case of an accident. In fact motorcycle accidents are 35 times more likely to result in death than car accidents are according to data from the federal government for 2006. This study compared the number of deaths for each type of vehicle per mile traveled. Motorcycle accidents are inherently dangerous because riders lack the security that comes from being belted inside the protective shell of a metal vehicle. This puts riders at increased risk of dying or suffering major injuries when their bodies hits the ground. Therefore it is a good to drive defensively to try to avoid crashes. This is why most states require passing a test and receiving a special endorsement before being allowed to operate a motorcycle. Here is a list of five of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents to help you do that.

Being Male or Inexperienced

About 96 percent of all motorcycle accidents involved a male driver. In addition more than 50 percent of all motorcycle drivers who had an accident were riding for fewer than five months at the time.

Head-on Collisions

About 56 percent of the accidents a motorcyclist had were with a car or other vehicle. Head-on crashes accounted for about 78 percent of those accidents. "

Speeding and Alcohol

Driving too fast or drinking too much was a factor in approximately half of all motorcycle accidents. That was the case whether or not another vehicle was involved.

Left Turn Crashes

Accidents involving vehicles making left hand turns were responsible for another 42 percent of collisions with other vehicles. While most of those involved cars turning left at intersections in front of motorcycles that were going straight through the intersection some happened when a motorcycle was overtaking or passing another vehicle.

Stationary Objects

Motorcycles that ran into trees posts or other fixed objects were also a problem. In fact those types of crashes accounted for about a quarter of all deaths in motorcycle accidents.

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