More women riders are lane splitting in California: study

Publish Date: 
Jul 10, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – California women are getting white line fever, with lane-splitting up far more among female motorcyclists than the general rider population, according to a new survey update.

The California Office of Traffic Safety's latest update to its 2012 lane sharing survey says that 80 percent of women said they lane-split on freeways, up from just 48.6 percent one year ago. That compares to 82 percent of men in 2013, up slightly from 79.7 percent in 2012.

Download the complete survey report HERE.

Lane-splitters’ top complaints about motorists remain that drivers don’t watch for them (33.1 percent) or are engaged in cell phone activity (25.6 percent). Another 12 percent reported aggressive drivers.

Motorists are only partly aware that lane-splitting is legal in California – 55.5 percent said they were aware – and many still aren’t happy about it. The most significant reason for disapproval is “it is unsafe” (57.5 percent), followed by things like “it startles me” and “it might cause me (or others) to have an accident.”

Ironically, 17.4 percent of drivers who admitted trying to block lane-splitters said they do it because lane splitting may cause them to have an accident.

Although close calls with cars decreased overall from 2012 to 2013, more riders reported being grazed by a car mirror or brushing the side of a car. In 2013, 8.6 percent of riders reported being hit by a car, down from 11.8 percent in 2012; 4 percent reported they hit a car in 2013, compared to 3.2 percent in 2012. 

Of the riders who hit or were hit by a vehicle, the percent of “just hit a car mirror” reports increased from 34.6 percent to 46.2 percent in 2013. “Scraped/hit side of car” also increased from 7.4 percent to 11.5 percent.

Lane-splitters seem to be less tolerant of traffic and more inclined to maneuver through slow or jammed freeways. The percentage of riders who said they split lanes when traffic is standing still was relatively constant between 2012 and 2013; however,  the number of motorcyclists who ride between cars when traffic is moving less than 20 mph went from 20.1 percent to 25.5 percent. The percentage of riders splitting in traffic up to 70 mph more than doubled, increasing from 1.6 percent to 3.6 percent.

The 2013 survey was again conducted by Ewald & Wasserman Research Consultants, using a similar methodology to the 2012 survey. The researchers surveyed a greater number of riders and drivers – 713 riders, compared to 560 in 2012, and 1,020 drivers, compared to 733 in 2012.

Posted by Holly Wagner