Apparently, this rider never read our Riding Safe: Crash Avoidance article from 2012. If he had he would have come across this nugget of riding wisdom. Ride Paranoid: They are out to get you. Every moving vehicle within visual proximity is not to be trusted. Whether it’s a left turn, lane merge, U-turn, running a red light, etc., you must always assume the driver of another vehicle lacks all reasonable intelligence and will execute any maneuver necessary to inflict maximum harm upon you.

Having illegally merged over the double yellow lines into the HOV lane, the young motorist with the ink still drying on his license is clearly at fault in this particular incident. However, the crash could (maybe) have been avoided had the motorcyclist:

    • Slowed his rate of travel. He seemed to be moving at a good clip (80ish mph) compared to surrounding traffic
    • Anticipated the illegal lane change (especially because cars do this all the time on LA freeways)
    • Covered the front brake, which would have dramatically decreased his reaction time

The combination of slower speed and faster reaction time may have given the rider a chance to take evasive maneuvers and split between the slower-moving cars, or, at the very least, lessen the impact. His relative lack of injury in this instance is down to luck, but not hitting the car in the first place would have been a far more desirable outcome.

Your thoughts?

  • john phyyt

    Drivers changing lanes in front happens all the time. Maybe you need to actually hit something to finally understand that it is a public transit system not designed for you.

    Bad karma will probably mean that I get taken out on the way home. But I was screaming in my helmet to be aware ! ; your bike has harley brakes and you are riding well inside ” my scary space” an area where I am on hyper alert . My bike has braded lines savage pads and half the combined weight of your scoot .. I might have just squeezed between cars too.. Easy to be wise in hindsight .. I believe Rider should share the blame.

    • FreelancerMG

      FIrst of all, we have to look at what action begot the other to determine who’s really at fault. This isn’t Japan where you’re automatically partially at fault for even deciding to wake up in the morning and leave the house and get in a car. We review what actions led up to the collision and go from there. While the motorcyclist may or may not be speeding and is going faster than the surrounding traffic, it’s not really egregiously so as I see most sportbike riders with a much higher speed differential when in that lane. If he had been going 20mph faster, similar to what spot bike riders would be doing, he’d could have directly been sideswiped and potentially tossed over the wall or right into the wall and been instantly killed.

      The blame then comes from the action of the driver illegally changing lanes committing potentially 2 moving violations and nearly a felony. He violated the motorcycle’s right of way, crossed the solid double yellow for a lane change, he then just keeps driving which can be construed as trying to run which happens A LOT in So. Cal. People who cause crashes here in many cases immediately try to flee the scene for one reason or another leaving the other party to stew in their fluids.

      While you may say that the motorcyclist speeding relatively to the lane next to him puts him partially at fault, you have to consider that if this driver never made the illegal lane-change, this particular incident never would have occurred. While we can’t say that if the rider was going slower that this necessarily still wouldn’t have happened we can say for certainty if the driver never made the illegal lane change this definitely wouldn’t have happened.

      • Uncommon Sense

        The driver is clearly at fault. This is not debatable. However, as a motorcyclist, the laws of physics don’t care who is right or wrong. No matter what the rules of the road say, the motorcyclist WILL ALWAYS LOSE.

        As such, IDGAF about who has the right away. I ride like at any moment a car driver could do something stupid that could potentially cause me harm or end my life.

        Anytime I start coming up on a row of cars backed up like this, I immediately slow down dramatically, cover the brakes, and move over to the furthest part of the lane as I fully expect for some impatient driver to jump out of the line into my lane.

        Part of being safe on the streets is being aware of surroundings and anticipating what is likely to happen. Rules of the road don’t mean sh*t when you are splattered all over someone’s windshield. We motorcyclist are running with the bulls and you have to ride accordingly regardless of the rules of the road.

  • Kamohelo Mohudi

    We see this happen a lot on highways and its actually difficult to avoid this type of collision but looking at the situation the rider might have been in a state of daydream as the car pulled over the barrier line he only realized just when it was in front of him….i haven’t ridden cruisers before but on a sports bike i’m sure if he had his brakes covered and was alert he wouldve been able to easily go through the gap the car left on the right and got himself a clear path but yeah this could be a case of feeling safe on your lane and not looking out for dangers, also its not a good idea to hold full clutch when slowing down as the bike will be coasting its better to engine break and it’ll be easier to shed speed much quicker…btw Toyota should look at its rear light designs those are too thin to see from far as you can see the guy was indicating but from far its not clear, slim light designs are only good for night driving

    • Matt

      The car driver had his view and his turn signal blocked by the car behind him that he had just cut off while changing lanes, making his lane change even more stupid.

  • Vrooom

    He’s riding so much faster than the lane next to him he was bound to have someone change lanes and cut him off. Like you said, less speed, cover the front brake, and be on them as soon as that car ‘s left tires hit the double line.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    He could have started to react at least 1,5 seconds earlier. The angle at which the car was changing lanes clearly indicated that it was a double maneuver.
    As an old proverb says: “It’s not speed that kills, it’s speed differential”.

  • blueson2wheels

    The fact that it’s a double yellow might have some legal significance, but in my opinion it doesn’t clearly put the car driver at fault. The same thing could have happened given any lane demarcations. The illegal lane change and the motorcyclists excessive speed might be seen as offsetting faults. I don’t know what the law says about something like this, just speculating, but the fact is that the motorcyclist ran into the back of the car. Legal fault aside, your riding decisions should be guided at all times by the principle that you will prevent that from happening.

  • TC

    This rider is a vlogger, he seeks out confrontation.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjzH6PohNm4

  • duanek

    Does the double yellow line the car crosses over count for anything?

    • guest

      If you ride and think everyone is a skilled driver that abides by the law, you may be headed for trouble…just saying

  • Andy C

    The driver also had his cell phone in his lap. Are you thinking he wasn’t distracted when he was driving?
    In L.A. we have to assume that every car is going to violate our right of way. And now that GPS is sending these cagers across busy boulevards we have to almost use cars as blockers.
    Oh, and don’t assume self-driving cars will see us any better!

  • guest

    If that kid didn’t pull out in front of him, I’ll bet one of the other cars would have. Way too fast for conditions. Hopefully he’ll learn to slow down. Just like we all aren’t expert riders, neither are drivers.

  • RyYYZ

    Definitely seems like dude could have braked a little sooner, tho if he’s a typical cruiser rider he may have been on the rear brake already.

    Whizzing past traffic in an adjacent lane (even if you are in the HOV lane with a double yellow between you and them – a double yellow isn’t much protection) that someone might suddenly change lanes from to yours is always risky. I just assume that if one lane has slowed a lot and one or the other to either side is moving better, that someone will jump into the faster lane (yellow lines be damned).

    From a legal point of view, I would think the driver is guilty of (besides crossing the double yellow in the the HOV lane illegally, assuming that crossing the double yellow is actually illegal in that state – Cali?) an unsafe lane change. For insurance purposes, too, I would expect fault to fall on the driver, although insurance rules may say differently.

  • Chris

    He certainly could have handled the situation better, including total avoidance. In addition, his demeanor afterwards was far from ideal. I understand it; been there several times. Still, try to be professional, calm, and polite. The odds are very high no one intended to wipe you out. You’ll only make a bad situation worse. Easy to say, I know…

  • John B.

    This crash illustrates why studying crashes gives only limited insight into how to ride safely. While it’s useful to analyze what the rider could have done differently to avoid a crash in this scenario, it’s more useful to study the habits of riders who do not crash. I am certain many seasoned safe riders have avoided crashes in scenarios similar to this one. (No crash, no video.)

    If you allow yourself to get hit whenever drivers do something stupid (e.g., cross a double yellow line at low speed), it’s only a matter of time until you crash. Similarly, if you allow yourself to crash when there’s debris in the road or unmarked hazards in and around construction zones, you’re doomed. Fault determines who should bear the economic damages that result from a crash, but being not at fault does not equate to safe riding.

    In Texas, where we have a vibrant economy, well-maintained highways, and the right to carry concealed firearms in our car, two foot rod-shaped white cones made of hard plastic separate HOV lanes from the rest of traffic. These cones knock the heck out of a car, which keeps people from driving through them to get into the HOV lane.

    Clearly, California state and local government is to blame for this crash. In addition to spending time drafting legislation to give child visitation rights to transgender grandparents and to protect the Pacific Treefrog, maybe the government should spend some time to bring its highways into the 21st century.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around if you’re into that sort of thing.

    • RyYYZ

      Yep – HOV lanes not separated from the other lanes by a barrier (preferably a solid one) are inherently dangerous, IMO. People will jump from the “fast” lane to the HOV lane while crossing the double yellows, and they will also jump out of the HOV lanes into the regular lanes without warning and where not legal. Deliberately setting up a situation where traffic is moving slowly in one lane and much faster in an adjacent lane is just stupid. Of course, I wouldn’t expect our social-engineering betters in the gov’t and DOT to understand this.

    • Born to Ride

      They have those cones separating the “fast track” toll lanes from regular traffic here in California. However, I prefer that they do not have the cones for the HOV lane because that’s where I split lanes. What happened to this guy happens to me at least once a week. His anticipation and reaction time was pathetic and he did not even attempt to evade the car. I don’t want to blame the rider because he wasn’t the one that broke the law, But in fairness, that guy shouldn’t be riding on the highway with such low awareness and accident avoidance skills.

  • edbob

    This ALMOST happened to me (and many others reading this) – ONCE. Thereafter I always reduce speed in the HOV lane when approaching slower moving traffic in the regular lanes. People jump the HOV divider all the time to avoid having to slow down. Although the car driver was legally at fault, the motorcyclist has rocks in his head.

  • sgray44444

    I’m getting really sick of all of the entitled Vloggers with a “get out of my way” attitude posting accidents or close calls that could easily have been avoided with a little common sense. Reading the traffic it was pretty obvious what was about to happen. If there isn’t a barrier between you and the next lane over, riding at that much of a speed differential is just asking for exactly what happened. Stupid! Yes, the car was in the wrong, but people do stupid things all the time on the road. I would much rather give up my “right” to maintain speed in my lane and live longer. This reminds me of the guy that was intentionally riding beside the car trying to merge, maintaining his “right” to be there since he was in the non-merge lane. How about we give everyone a little consideration and quit being such a d-bag. I think a lot of these guys are getting exactly what they ask for.

    • tday60

      Totally agree. This “rider” has the skills of a little kid on a tricycle.

  • Sentinel

    Doing around 80 Mph. past a lane of stopped traffic is just asking for this to happen. The rider is as much of an idiot as the driver is.

  • Edmilson Mamulengo

    With me happend the opposit. A police officer ordered to me to stop – it´s how things works in Brazil. It was a comando, 2 police cars with 4 officers in the side of the road, several cars stopped for documentation inquiry. So, I was stopping my bike, a Super Duke 990, and a truck hit me and trowed me in the air and, then, falling with a left broken elbow and wrist!!! The explanation? He did not see the police officer or cars stopped in the side of the road!!!!

  • Matt Holm

    Drivers phone sitting on his lap!