The California Governor Jerry Brown, on August 19, 2016, signed the Assembly Bill 51 into law. The AB 51 bill makes it the first state in the United States to pass the legislation that puts it legal for motorcycles to split lanes in a highway. The new law took effect on January 1, 2017.
Most drivers in California have had to sit in the freeway traffic when a motorcycle squeezes or flies between gridlocked cars (a practice called lane splitting). Many people’s opinions differed on whether lane splitting would be allowed or not. Most motorists, most of those who regularly drive cars, believe that lane splitting is a dangerous act that should be banned. Motorcyclists, on the contrary, think that lane splitting ought to be legal and done safely.
As the New Year is progressing forward, it is now time to take note of the new laws and regulations before they catch you up in California. With the help of the Highway Authority Patrol of California, Patch has broken down come of the most important safety traffic changes for the New Year. They are coming to us in the form of changes and new laws.
Current California Law
Let’s look at what the current California law states. When a roadway or highway is divided into two or more lanes that head the same direction, all these vehicles that are headed in the same direction must be driven in the same practical single lane. The Highway Patrol Authority in California has neither interpreted this law as prohibiting nor authorizing lane splitting.
New Legislation in California
The new California AB 51 bill that was added to Section 216581 of the California state Vehicle Code. This statute defines lane splitting as driving a motorcycle. A motorcycle, according to the statute, has two wheels that are in contact with the ground, between rows of moving or stopped vehicles in the same driving lane. This includes both the undivided and divided highways, roads, and streets.
The new California law also authorizes the California Highway Patrol Authority to develop new safety guidelines that regard lane splitting. Guidelines issued by the California Highway Patrol Authority explained that only the experienced motorists should attempt lane splitting.
Though there are still many uncertainties about the legalized law in the state, the AB 51 bill will make California the first state in the nation to approve lane splitting for a motorcycle. We are still anticipating to see if other states will follow the example set by California.