| Read Time: 5 minutes | Personal Injury
Do Motorcyclists Always Have the Right of Way

Right of way is the system that determines the order of how people enter traffic. When everyone understands this process, it leads to a smooth flow of traffic and safer road conditions. 

However, drivers often see motorcyclists weaving through traffic and rolling through stop signs. This may cause them to wonder if motorcyclists have to follow the same traffic laws. 

So, do motorcyclists always have the right of way? In short, motorcyclists have to follow the same traffic laws as anyone else. 

That being said, right of way is not the only factor to consider after a motorcycle accident. If you need help after an accident, speak with the attorneys at the Frederick Law Firm. We can review your case and see if you qualify for compensation. 

When Do Motorcycles Have the Right of Way?

Motorcyclists have the same rights as drivers in California. They are entitled to the same rights on the road and must adhere to the same traffic laws and regulations as other vehicles. This includes following rules related to the right of way, traffic signals, and stop signs. However, California does allow lane splitting for motorcyclists under certain conditions, which must be performed cautiously and within specific safety guidelines set by the California Highway Patrol.


Intersections without stoplights are critical points where people must determine the right of way. Motorcyclists making left turns must yield to oncoming traffic, following the same rules as other drivers. Likewise, they need to come to a full stop at stop signs. Misinterpreting right of way in these situations can cause life-altering accidents. 

Lane Splitting 

California is one of the few states that permits lane splitting. Motorcyclists have the right to ride between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. But do motorcyclists always have the right of way when lane splitting?

No. While lane splitting can help a rider get through congested areas, it comes with limits.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has provided guidelines for safe and responsible lane splitting. Some of these include:

  • Moderate speed. Motorcyclists are advised to lane split at a moderate and safe speed. Excessive speeds can increase the risk of accidents and pose safety concerns.
  • Traffic flow. Lane splitting is recommended in traffic moving at 30 mph or less. It is not encouraged at high speeds or on freeways with free-flowing traffic.
  • Considerate riding. Motorcyclists should exercise caution and be considerate of other road users. Abrupt or aggressive maneuvers are discouraged.
  • Space and lanes. Motorcyclists should be aware of the space available between vehicles and avoid tight spaces. Always try to give yourself the most space to pass a vehicle.
  • Hazardous zones. Riding in some areas can be dangerous for motorcyclists. They should never pass near large vehicles with blind spots or if their view is limited. 

Interactions with Other Vehicles

Motorcyclists must be vigilant when near other vehicles. While they have the right to share the road, merging and changing lanes require careful consideration. Motorcyclists should only pass if they think the other vehicle can see them. This allows motorcyclists to maintain their right of way without creating additional risk.

Legal Consequences for Violating Right of Way

Respecting right-of-way rules is crucial for ensuring the safety of all road users. Violating these rules can lead to serious legal consequences.

Traffic Citations and Fines

Law enforcement officers often issue tickets for traffic violations. Right-of-way citations often cite failure to yield and red lights. The officer will determine the amount of the fine based on the severity of the violation and the potential risk it poses to others.

Points on Driving Record

Certain right-of-way violations can add points to the driver’s record. For example, improper lane splitting can lead to a reckless driving charge and two points. Getting too many points can lead to high insurance premiums and license suspension. 

High Insurance Premiums

Insurance companies often view traffic violations as indicators of risk. Drivers with a history of right-of-way infractions may face higher premiums. Additionally, repeated violations could result in the denial of coverage or the cancellation of existing policies.

Driver Education Programs

A court may mandate a driver to attend traffic school or education programs as part of the consequences for a right-of-way violation. Drivers have a legal duty to complete these programs. Fortunately, attending traffic school can help remove points from your license.

Civil Liability for Accidents

Violating the right of way law can lead to accidents. The driver at fault may be civilly liable for damages they cause. This could include covering medical expenses, property damage, and other costs incurred by the injured party. 

How an Attorney Can Help After a Motorcycle Accident

Getting in a motorcycle accident can be a traumatic and life-altering event. It leaves individuals grappling with physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial burdens. 

Whether you were the motorcyclist or another driver in the collision, an attorney can help protect your rights and help you seek compensation. Here are some of the benefits of working with a lawyer:

  • Legal guidance. An experienced attorney handling motorcycle accidents understands the legal challenges of these cases. They can guide you on the relevant laws, statutes of limitations, and the legal options available to pursue compensation.
  • Investigation. You must gather crucial evidence after an accident to build a strong case. Attorneys have the resources to conduct thorough investigations, obtain accident reports, and collaborate with accident reconstruction experts to establish the facts surrounding the incident.
  • Determining liability. Showing liability is a critical aspect of any motorcycle accident case. Attorneys can analyze the circumstances leading to the collision, review traffic laws, and identify negligent parties. 
  • Insurance negotiations. Attorneys can handle communications with insurance companies, advocating for your rights and negotiating fair settlements. They work to ensure that you receive compensation for all damage and costs related to the accident.
  • Medical advocacy. Motorcycle accidents often result in serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment. An attorney can help coordinate with healthcare providers, ensuring that you receive the necessary medical attention.
  • Legal representation in court. An attorney can take your claim to court if you can’t reach a fair settlement. They will prepare a compelling case, present evidence, and show the judge or jury why you need the maximum compensation.

In addition to this, a compassionate attorney understands the emotional toll a motorcycle accident can take. They can offer help, answer your questions, and guide you through the legal process. Their empathy and support can alleviate some of the stress associated with the aftermath of a collision.

Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer 

The Frederick Law Firm fights hard to get our clients compensation after car and motorcycle accidents. Our lawyers have over fifty years of experience and a proven track record of success. We are always ready to hear your case and see what rights you have after an accident. 

Call our law firm today to schedule a case evaluation.

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