Authorities believe “Lane Splitting” may have caused an accident that left one motorcyclist dead.
On Friday at around 8:30 AM, California Highway Patrol officers responded to an accident site on Westbound I80 at the Weimar Crossroads on ramp, where a motorcyclist was hit by a big rid.
The victim is 47 year-old James Lee Browning of Colfax. Witnesses told authorities Browning was riding his motorcycle between a trailer and a big rig, when the big rig hit him on the side, and launched him into the side of the road.
CHP said “Lane Splitting,” a controversial riding technique might have contributed to the crash. It is legal in California, and it allows motorcyclists to ride between cars to avoid traffic.
“We allow Lane splitting, and I understand some states don’t allow it, but California does,” CHP Officer David Martinez said. “But at the same time, we need everybody to share the road safely and if they’re going to be passing people in between lanes, it needs to be done safe.”
Two weeks ago, CHP removed their lane splitting guidelines from their website, because they said they were being misinterpreted by riders. Unless the motorcyclist is weaving erratically, lane splitting cannot be cited. Instead, they left safety tips, which state, lane splitting is “permissible, if it is done in a safe and prudent manner.”
However, many said the idea of “safe” is relevant. According to Martinez, “safe” means traveling at a speed that allows others sharing the road to see the rider, so that it gives the rider ample time to react.
Browning’s family told Fox 40, he was a safe and experienced rider. He had been riding the Harley since it was give to him by his uncle many years ago. They could not imagine he was carelessly riding between two vehicles, but died doing what he loved to do.
Investigators are now looking at every angle to find exactly what caused the crash.
“We will look at speed, do a toxicology test, and we need to look at vehicle’s actions, motorcycle’s actions… It’s not cut and dry like the car is at fault or the motorcycle is at fault, we need to look at the totality of everything,” Officer Martinez said. “People just need to use common sense when driving the roadway. Everybody. Cars and motorcyclists.”
Browning’s sister, who is also a motorcycle rider, said she hopes to ride with her brother’s ashes once he is cremated.