UC Berkeley Study: Lane-Splitting Safety, Acceptance Increase In 2014

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
uc berkeley study lane splitting safety acceptance increase in 2014

Motorcycles passing through slow traffic on either side of the rider is a rarity in the United States, where only California officially gives it the thumbs-up when conditions are safe to do so. A recent study of lane-splitting further confirms the safety and acceptance of the practice.

According to Autoblog, the study — conducted every year since 2012 by the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley — reports 80.6 percent of riders split lanes on freeways, 70.4 percent on non-freeways, and 62.1 percent on both.

As far as safety goes, 4.7 percent of riders told UC Berkeley they were hit by a vehicle on the freeway, down from 8.6 percent in 2012. Non-freeway riders saw the biggest drop in lane-splitting accidents, falling from 8.3 percent in 201 and 7.4 percent in 2013, to just 2 percent this year.

Finally, the rate of acceptance has gone up among drivers, with 46.3 percent believing lane-splitting to be legal on both freeways and non-freeways, up 9.7 percent from last year’s 36.6 percent.

This year’s study surveyed 1,660 — 951 drivers and 709 riders — from 35 cities in 12 counties in around the Bay Area and Southern California.

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  • STRATOS STRATOS on Oct 27, 2014

    Nobody would buy any scooters in Europe if this was not tolerated.Even 75 year old riders don't have safety concerns with lane splitting. It makes space for cars.

  • Suto Suto on Oct 27, 2014

    I feel I have genuinely learned from this comments section today. Here is a hypothetical. I am cruising down the highway in a car. I am maintaining my lane and going straight. There traffic is heavy, but moving, maybe 10-15mph slower than the speed limit I see some debris a little late, because I am about the minimum safe distance behind the guy ahead of me. I swerve 2 feet to the left to avoid the debris (or pothole, or dog, whatever) WHILE STAYING IN MY LANE. I believe this is perfectly legal, and reasonable. What if a motorcycle had just started splitting lanes and I hit him? I believe if a police officer saw it, I would be in the clear with the current laws, but without some good witnesses it would be hard to prove innocence. If they made lane splitting legal I may be up a creek. It just seems wrong to require you to look behind you so frequently if you are maintaining your lane.

    • See 2 previous
    • Suto Suto on Oct 27, 2014

      @sportyaccordy Thanks. I live around Cleveland Ohio. I hear the traffic here is much more sparse than other places, especially parts of California or in New York City. When I see lane splitting, it is always the dangerous kind, usually involving a wheelie. That is likely a big part of why I have a negative attitude towards it, another case of the idiots ruining it for the rest of us. I will have to see the safer version of lane splitting in action.

  • Noble713 Noble713 on Oct 27, 2014

    Ugh. This is a particular pet peeve of mine. The sports bikers aren't usually the problem, but Okinawa is full of scooters and mopeds. Especially younger inexperienced riders who can't afford cars. Few things are more frustrating than pulling up to a stop light as the first car and then having a pair of 15hp Vespas lane split their way to the front and stop in front of you. Now my 300+ hp car is stuck behind mopeds that do 0-60 in 2 minutes, and I can't lane change around them because the nearly-as-slow kei car in the next lane is driving just fast enough to block me in. >_

  • -Nate -Nate on Oct 28, 2014

    It's nice to see some clear headed thinking and common sense here . Last night I had a nice sunset ride to say good bye to Damien privately , I did split a few lanes , carefully as always and never by going stupidly faster ~ there's zero benefit in that . -Nate