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It’s known as “lane splitting” or “splitting lanes.” It’s controversial, and it’s legal.

Now, the state Office of Traffic Safety has issued a survey of motorcyclists and drivers about their reaction to lane splitting, in which bikers snake their way between cars on Highway 101 or on local roads with two lanes going the same direction.

Here are some of the survey’s findings:

–77.6 percent of motorcyclists say they lane split, with 30.9 percent saying they do it all the time.

–7.3 percent of drivers say they’ve tried to prevent a motorcyclist from lane splitting. Of them, 43.6 percent said they did it because lane splitting is unsafe and 23.1 percent said it was because “it is unfair they get ahead of me.”

–67.2 percent of motorcyclists said a driver has tried to prevent them from lane splitting.

–91 percent of drivers said they have motorcyclists split lanes next to them nearly every day of the week.

–5.3 percent of drivers said they had been in a collision with a motorcyclist on a freeway.

–11.7 percent of motorcyclists say a vehicle had hit them while lane splitting; 3.2 percent said they had hit a vehicle.

–19.1 percent of drivers said they had witnessed a collision involving a motorcyclist who was lane splitting.

–36.6 percent of drivers “strongly approve” or “somewhat approve” of lane splitting, while 63.4 percent “strongly disapprove” or “somewhat disapprove.”

–53 percent of drivers know that lane splitting is legal.

The survey comes as OTS and the CHP have declared May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, publicizing reminders to drivers and motorcyclists to “share the road.”

OTS says after more than a decade of steady increases, motorcycle fatalities dropped in 2009, the latest year for which statewide data is available.

OTS says the key to legal lane splitting is for bikers to do so “in a safe and prudent man n er, being cognizant of overall traffic speeds, speed differences, spacing and lane changing patterns of surrounding traffic. Riding too fast is one of the most common things that motorcyclists do to make lane splitting unsafe.”

To read a past column on lane splitting, CLICK HERE.

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