A recent survey from the California Office of Traffic Safety indicates that many motorcyclists feel unsafe when lane-splitting, the practice of moving between slow-moving cars. At least 30 percent of the OTS survey respondents reported feeling concerned about being involved in a motorcycle accident because of a driver failing to check their mirrors or driving while distracted.
Lack of driver knowledge is likely the primary reason why motorcyclists are concerned about the habits of car drivers. California is the only state that does not have a law concerning lane-splitting and car many drivers are unaware that lane-splitting is legal.
One survey of 733 California car drivers indicates that only 53 percent of drivers know that lane-splitting is legal in California and 63 percent of respondents said that they disapprove of the practice. Tourists and visitors are likely unaware that California allows lane-splitting and are therefore less likely to be on the lookout for a motorcyclist splitting a lane.
Lane-splitting is also common and highly dangerous. An OTS survey of 560 motorcyclists indicated that 77.6 percent of the motorcyclists engaged in lane-splitting and that almost 15 percent of motorcyclists were involved in crashes while lane-splitting. About 45 percent of the lane-splitters reported near-collisions.
Of the motorcyclists who were involved in lane-splitting accidents, almost 10 percent suffered severe personal injuries, 11 percent had minor injuries, and 34.6 percent reported hitting car mirrors.
Source: Consumer Reports, “Motorcyclists name perceived threats, and they are you,” May 14, 2012