New Year’s Day Motorcycle Death Raises Questions about Lane Splitting

Local News
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A day after a fatal motorcycle crash on Interstate 80, local motorists are questioning both the legality and safety of a maneuver called lane splitting.

Friends of the 25-year-old Sacramento man who died in Thursday’s crash identified the victim as Brandon Gunnels.

“He clipped the pick up truck, lost control and crashed into the back of the big rig,” California High Patrol Spokesperson Chad Hertzell said.

Hertzell told FOX40 that when Gunnels crashed he was splitting lanes, a maneuver where a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of traffic.

While the Department of Motor Vehicles website said California law does not allow or prohibit motorcycles from splitting lanes, Hertzell says the maneuver is not illegal.

“It is legal, but when traffic’s almost at a standstill and you’re going 50 or 60 miles per hour, it’s definitely not safe,” Hertzell said.

The Department of Motor Vehicles told FOX40 it recently removed a list of guidelines regarding lane splitting from its website, after someone challenged its rule making process.

“It’s a grey area, essentially. It’s more legal than not,” motorcyclist Wilder Mata said.

It is a grey area that even experienced motorcyclists question.

“It would be good to have guidelines. Strict guidelines that we know what the grey area is. Because we don’t even know what it is,” Vince Silveria said.

Silveria has been riding motorcycles for 25 years. He says he heard about Gunnel’s death, and believes he must have been performing the maneuver too fast.

“It’s a good thing if you do it right. If you go anywhere from 5 to 10 miles an hour faster than traffic, you’re fine. If you go any faster than that you don’t have time to react, someone’s gonna get hurt,” Silveria said.

Hertzell told FOX40 the CHP only recommends lane splitting during slow traffic, while traveling at speeds no greater than 10 mph over the flow of traffic.

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