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Lane splitting is legal but with a few caveats
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Two new laws are now in effect that could end up affecting South County motorists.
And this time it doesn’t have anything to do with your cell phone.
On January 1, it officially became legal for motorcyclists to split lanes while passing through traffic – solidifying a long-standing standard that was accepted and recognized by the California Highway Patrol. Because there was no law that explicitly prohibited it, motorcyclists were able to pass traffic in the same lane as long as it was done safely.
The new regulations specify that the practice could be done just so long as it didn’t exceed 40 miles per hour that the motorcyclist is not traveling at a speed much greater than the traffic that he is passing.
Guidelines will be issued by the California Highway Patrol to specify the legality of the practice now that the law has been enacted.
“I think that it’s good to provide guidelines – there will always be the minority that will travel at unsafe speeds through traffic, but the vast majority do so safely” said Lathrop Police Services Sergeant Matt Lindemann. “And drivers in vehicles sometimes don’t understand that it is legal and acceptable. I’m a big proponent of lane-splitting as long as it is done safely, and as motorists in vehicles and on motorcycles we want to keep an extra eye out and ride and drive defensively.”
Lindemann was previous the motorcycle traffic officer for Lathrop Police Services before being promoted.
Drivers who have children younger than the age of 2 will also be impacted by a new law that requires that anybody below that age remain in a rear-facing car seat until their second birthday. The law that required a rear-facing seat for the first year was already passed, so according to Lindemann it’s just simply an extension of what has already become standard practice.
“It used to be a big deal that as soon as a child turned one, they got to turn around and face forward and it was a great thing, but through the testing of safety seat organizations, they determined that it’s still too young to have them facing forward,” Lindemann said. “Keeping them in a rear-facing car seat is not a big deal for the child, and in the event of a collision, their entire body is cradled in the seat instead of just that little strap holding them in place.”
Lathrop Police Services does provide car seat installation services for new parents and families who want to make sure that their child restraint systems are installed effectively. Lindemann, who is a nationally certified car seat installation technician, said that anybody can come down to the office – by appointment – from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to have a seat installed or checked to make sure that it is installed properly.
For additional information, or to schedule an appointment for a car seat installation or inspection, call Lathrop Police Services at 209-585.5551.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.