Motorists beware- you may have seen motorcycles squeezing in between two cars on a clogged highway. Maybe you've seen them passing stalled traffic and got upset and said some choice words. I've seen some motorists even attempt to block them, taking the situation into their own hands in some cases. But in California, it is legal to lane split, and even more- if motorists attempt to block them or stop them- beware- it's against the law.

Besides- less motorcycles taking up full lanes means traffic will be slightly less congested, and that's good for everyone, right?

The California Highway Patrol, via its website, informs motorists "lane splitting in a safe and prudent manner is not illegal in the state of California." CHP puts together a list of guidelines for motorcyclists to safely lane split:

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 Four R's or “Be-Attitudes” of Lane Splitting:
Be Reasonable, be Responsible, be Respectful, be aware of all Roadway and traffic conditions.

CHP also wants to tell other motorists the following:

1) Lane splitting by motorcycles is not illegal in California when done in a safe and prudent manner.

2) Motorists should not take it upon themselves to discourage motorcyclists from lane splitting.

3) Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider is illegal (CVC 22400).

4) Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcycle is illegal (CVC 22517).

5) Never drive while distracted.

6) You can help keep motorcyclists and all road users safe by:
-Checking mirrors and blind spots, especially before changing lanes or turning
-Signaling your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic
-Allowing more following distance, three or four seconds, when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency

Be safe out there, and watch for motorcycles!