8 Ball In The Wind

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lane Sharing Explained Part 2 The Studies

As I had said in my last blog post, I will be discussing today the 2014 University of California Berkeley Lane Splitting Study and the 2015 UC Berkeley Lane Splitting Study.  Both studies show that motorcyclists that choose to lane split have reduced risk of head, torso, and fatal injuries in crashes.  As we have seen before, lane sharing crashes are only a fraction of the number of crashes involving motorcyclists.  Not just in California, but in Europe as well; as can also be seen in the European Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study (MAIDS).

When you look under the "results" on page 2 of the 2014 Berkeley study, you will note that it is compiled from data involving 7,836 motorcyclists.  This is a significant sampling, being roughly ten times larger than that of the 1981 'Hurt Report'.  The data obtained can be used to better understand the safety benefits of lane sharing.  Especially after comparing them to the findings of Dr. Ouellet's 2012 study showing approximately 60% of motorcyclists lane sharing during congested traffic situations.  Yet, only 0.6% of motorcycle crashes were related to lane sharing.

The 2014 Berkeley study shows a significant different in the make-up of motorcyclists in California who lane share.  The percentage of unlicensed riders was moderately lower among lane sharing motorcyclists at 18% compared to 22% of all other motorcyclists.  The lane sharing motorcyclists were also; less likely to carry a passenger (2%) compared to other motorcyclists (6%), less likely to be rear ended by another vehicle (2,7%) compared to the other motorcyclists (4.6%), less likely to be affected by alcohol (1.3%) compared to other motorcyclists (3.3%).  So, the 2014 Berkeley study shows that lane sharing motorcyclists were more likely to be; properly licensed, solo riders, at a lower risk of being rear-ended, as well as being less likely to have consumed alcohol than other motorcyclists who chose not to lane share.  These findings conformed well to the 2015 Berkeley study which contained a sampling of 5,969 motorcycle collisions.

Both studies also show a significant difference in the number and severity of injuries received by lane sharing motorcyclists.  Injuries to the torso, and head, and fatal injuries were all significantly lower for lane sharing motorcyclists.  The differences in both studies conformed to each other extremely well, showing results that generally conform to 

2014 Injuries: lane sharing motorcyclists (LSM's) vs non-lane sharing motorcyclists (NLSM's)

  • Head injuries  LSM's 9.1%   NLSM's 16.5%
  • Torso injuries LSM's 18.6% NLSM's 27.3%
  • Fatal injuries  LSM's 1.4%   NLSM's 3.1% 

2015 Injuries: lane sharing motorcyclists (LSM's) vs non-lane sharing motorcyclists (NLSM's)

  • Head Injuries  LSM's 9%  NLSM's 17%
  • Torso injuries LSM's 19% NLSM's 29%
  • Fatal injuries LSM's 1.2%  NLSM's 3%

Both studies indicate that lane sharing motorcyclists tend to be better equipped, solo riders during commute hours, traveling at lower speeds.  While there are a segment of riders who travel at a higher speed differential, most travel at lower speeds in relation to the flow of traffic.  With the overall lane sharing activity beginning to drop of sharply between 35 & 40 mph.

I would strongly suggest that you follow the links in this blog post, and read the studies for yourself.  If lane sharing is to become an option in Washington State, then the motorcycling community needs to become better informed on the facts, and able to counter arguments that opponents may bring forward.  I'll discuss some of those arguments in the final part of this three part series.  

Catch ya on the road sometime...

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