Bill to Create Guidelines on Lane Splitting is Signed into Law

Friday, August 19, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Quirk (D-Hayward) and Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R- Palmdale) have successfully granted the California Highway Patrol (CHP) authority to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting.

Lane splitting, which occurs when a motorcycle drives between rows of stopped or moving traffic, is a gray area in California law. This is because statute is silent – California does not explicitly allow it, but also doesn’t explicitly prohibit this behavior.

Recognizing the need to develop guidelines as an education tool for drivers, the CHP convened a committee of traffic safety stakeholders and motorcycle safety experts in 2012. However, an individual filed a complaint that the guidelines were underground regulations. At the suggestion of counsel, CHP removed the guidelines from its website and the Department of Motor Vehicles removed them from the Motorcycle Handbook.

“Removal of the guidelines left a huge gap with regards to traffic safety. CHP had to curtail all education and outreach efforts on lane splitting,” Assemblymember Quirk explained. Last year he partnered with Assemblymember Lackey, a retired California Highway Patrolman, to introduce Assembly Bill (AB) 51.

AB 51 clarifies that the CHP does have authority to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting. It further asks that they convene a group of stakeholders to provide their expert opinion in the drafting of the guidelines. “There are motorcyclists that lane split safely and others that disregard all safety considerations – those are the drivers this bill will help the most,” Assemblymember Quirk stated.

“California took a groundbreaking step today as the first state to formally allow motorcycle lane splitting,” said Assemblymember Lackey. “More importantly, we are now giving riders and motorists clear guidance on when it is safe. This is a huge win for roadway safety.”  

“I am thrilled to see that California, is once again, at the forefront of common-sense road safety legislation. Signing of this bill will bring legitimacy to this practice and help to keep our roads safer and our drivers – both motorcyclists and motorists – better educated.” Assemblymember Quirk commented upon learning his bill was signed.

Elected in 2012, Bill Quirk brings his PhD in astrophysics and career as an educator and scientist to the State Assembly. He is the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy, and a member of the Assembly Committees on Agriculture, Appropriations, Public Safety, Revenue & Taxation, Rules, and Utilities & Commerce.

Website of Assemblymember Quirk: http://www.asmdc.org/quirk