“Share the road, look twice for motorcyclists” — it was a simple safety message that our motorcycle accident lawyers echo. According to the Union-Tribune, some San Diego drivers did not receive it well.
As a part of California’s continuing effort to lower its staggering motorcycle accident statistics, the “Look Twice, Save a Life” campaign posted that message on many of California’s freeway message boards in February, 2010. Apparently looking twice is one time too many for some temperamental San Diego motorists, as tensions between lane sharing motorcyclists and car drivers reach a head.
Not all drivers want to ‘lane share’ with motorcyclists like a road sign message asked them to do.
The electronic message was posted throughout California starting February 11 and was scheduled to be taken down on February 19. In that time, Caltrans, who — along with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the state Office of Transportation Safety — was behind the sign, fielded about 800 calls regarding the sign. Most calls from other counties were positive. In San Diego County, it was the opposite.
“None of the calls we’ve gotten have been positive,” said a spokesman for the San Diego Caltrans office. “One call was a 20-minute rant.”
In total, about a dozen callers complained that it wasn’t their job to watch out for motorcyclists whom they claimed speed, dangerously double up in lanes with cars and ride recklessly. As motorcycle accident lawyers in San Diego, we can’t help but wonder why drivers in our county are this upset over a simple safety message while drivers in other counties took it as a positive.
All this comes in the midst of a two-year campaign by the CHP — dubbed “Look Twice, Save a Life” — designed to reduce the rising number of motorcycle injuries and fatalities in the four counties with the worst motorcycle accident statistics.
A little perspective on these numbers: California had 844,011 licensed motorcyclists in 1999. In 2008, that number jumped to 1,211,848 — a 44 percent increase — so we know that the crash rate is exceeding the rate of new riders. As you can see, San Diego County has the second-most motorcycle deaths in the state.
One theory revolves around lane sharing. While the California Vehicle Code doesn’t say that lane sharing or “lane-splitting” is illegal, motorcyclists can still be ticketed if an officer judges the move too dangerous for roadway conditions.
“[Lane sharing] is permissible but must be done in a safe and prudent manner,” according to CHP.
Controversial and dangerous, lane-splitting is likely to continue to be legal on our roads. Therefore, signs that remind drivers to be extra cautious for lane sharing motorcyclists are a good thing. As Janet Lavelle of the U-T astutely pointed out, at the very least, the signs have been noticed.
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