The California Highway Patrol made headlines back in February of 2013 for posting a set of guidelines for motorcyclists to safely split lanes in traffic. But two weeks ago, the agency quietly removed this language from their website without any explanation. The CHP has never endorsed lane-splitting, the technique motorcyclists employ by cutting between cars in the space between lanes.
"Some might have interpreted the published lane splitting guidelines as a rules, laws or regulation that could and would be enforced by the department," Kevin Tao, a California Highway Patrol officer said. "The guidelines were never intended for this purpose, they were prepared simply as common sense traffic safety tips... The department felt that a lot of people thought that this was the law."
However, the guidelines were meant to help inform riders of safer ways to go about the practice.
Nick Haris, Western States Representative for the American Motorcyclist Association, told AirTalk that going as far as to outlaw lane-splitting would not necessarily provide a safety benefit.
"Based on the studies that I’ve reviewed I don’t know if I believe there will be an overall safety benefit (in outlawing lane-splitting)," Haris said. "It’s a kind of hypothetical. I think that’s the whole point of the guideline, is to educated riders on how to do it properly and to educated drivers…. Part of the joy of lane splitting for riders is getting where you’re going faster than you would have if you were in your car. The flipside is that all the car drivers are benefiting by that vehicle, you know, instead of that person being in a car they are now on a motorcycle. Collectively we need to recognize there is a benefit for everyone."
Are you a motorcyclist? What do you think about these guidelines? Have you ever had any encounters with lane-splitting as a driver? Why did the CHP decide to take down these guidelines? Should they be re-posted?
Let us know in the comments below. You can hear the full segment at the top left.
Kevin Tao, California Highway Patrol officer
Nick Haris, Western States Representative for the American Motorcyclist Association
Robert Gladden, Vice President of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in Irvine, CA