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UC Berkeley Publish Full Report on Lane Splitting Safety

Discussion in 'Research, Studies, and Data' at netrider.net.au started by NetriderBot, May 30, 2015.

  1. You may remember late last year that the University of California Berkeley (in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol) released their initial findings on a study focusing on the motorcycle lane splitting in California – the first study ever to look at the practice properly. Those initial findings supported what most motorcyclists knew all along – that lane splitting is a safer practice than not doing so.

    Now the full and final study has been released, going into more detail and depth on their findings. The study found that compared with other motorcyclists, lane-splitting motorcyclists were more often riding on weekdays and during commute hours, were using better helmets, and were traveling at lower speeds. Lane-splitting riders were also less likely to have been using alcohol and less likely to have been carrying a passenger.

    Lane-splitting motorcyclists were also injured much less frequently during their collisions. Lanesplitting riders were less likely to suffer head injury (9% vs 17%), torso injury (19% vs 29%), extremity injury (60% vs 66%), and fatal injury (1.2% vs 3.0%). Lane-splitting motorcyclists were equally likely to suffer neck injury, compared with non-lane-splitting motorcyclists

    Perhaps stating the obvious, but the study also found that lane-splitting appeared to be a relatively safe motorcycle riding strategy if done in traffic moving at 50 MPH or less and if motorcyclists do not exceed the speed of other vehicles by more than 15 MPH. A significant number of motorcyclists lane-split in fast-moving traffic or at excessive speed differentials. These riders could lower their risk of injury by restricting the environments in which they lane-split and by reducing their speed differential when they do choose to lanesplit.

    But perhaps the most interesting finding is that most motorcycle riders ‘self-police’ their splitting habits, so to speak. Only a small fraction of riders in California lane split at high speed. Most take the sensible approach and only split in ‘start-stop’ traffic or when other cars are travelling at or below 40MPH.

    You can read the full report here. Interestingly, it appears that California could soon legalize motorcycle lane-splitting. That may seem strange to hear given that it was the CHP initiating this study, but currently lane-splitting is neither legal nor illegal in California. This new law would provide clarity to riders but also make it clear to car drivers that what motorcyclists are doing is not only for our own safety, but okay in the eyes of the law.


    Continue reading...
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Can this be shown to the boffins deciding our fate on Lane splitting.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. That's an insult to "boffins"
  4. Sounds promising, though the study is somewhat limited. While it does tell us the crashes are less severe to lane splitters when they happen, it doesn't tell us whether there are more or less crashes by lane splitters. They even admit this in the Discussion section:

    "The primary limitation is our lack of exposure data. To estimate how the risk of being involved in a collision changes when motorcyclists chose to lanesplit, we would require information on both the lane-splitting and non-lane-splitting riding that is done by some identifiable sample of motorcyclists. The collection of these data is fraught with problems, and the current study did not attempt to collect such data. The current data set cannot be used to compare the collision risks for lane-splitting or non-lane-splitting riders"

    It could for example be that the lower severity of crashes is due to a larger amount of low severity crashes. This could bring the average crash severity down, without actually reducing the number of severe crashes. You would still have the same number of fatal crashes, only they would represent a smaller % due to the larger number of minor crashes.

    Still it's good a start, and it's great to see more studies on this. The speed differential insight is pretty interesting and something that probably applies even to non-lane splitting riders.
  5. Good point. Exposure data is notoriously difficult to get.

    But it's not difficult to infer that filtering is safer for motorcyclists. Just take the range of motorcycle accident studies in similar or comparable jurisdictions where filtering is allowed and try to find filtering as a significant crash cause.

    The case controlled crash study in Melbourne is nearing completion. If filtering is as dangerous as non riders think it is, that a rider is a good as in hospital by merely even thinking of filtering, then the study should show that up since riders do filter... (hint - prelimary results are that it doesn't show anything of the sort)