Crime - Sacto 911

Lane-splitting motorcyclist dies when run over by truck on I-80 in West Sacramento

California has tried to sanction lane-splitting, illustrated in this picture from the Los Angeles area.
California has tried to sanction lane-splitting, illustrated in this picture from the Los Angeles area. TNS

A lane-splitting motorcyclist was run over and killed by one of two big trucks he was trying to squeeze by Sunday afternoon on Interstate 80 in West Sacramento.

Robert McDonald, a 73-year-old motorcyclist from San Jose, was driving his Harley Davidson Electra Glide with a 52-year-old female passenger westbound on I-80 at about 1:20 p.m. Sunday at 15-to-20 mph in stop-and-go traffic when the crash occurred.

The motorcycle began to wobble as McDonald drove between a tractor-trailer combination rig and a 24-foot, three-axle flatbed truck. The motorcycle crashed onto the pavement between the trucks and the driver and passenger were ejected, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The motorcycle driver was run over by the rear tandem tires of the flatbed truck. His passenger was struck by the tractor-trailer rig.

The truck drivers and several other motorists stopped to render aid to the motorcycle riders until West Sacramento Fire Department medical personnel arrived on the scene.

McDonald died on the scene. His passenger was transported to the hospital with what were described as major injuries.

California is the only state in the country that allows lane-splitting, where motorcyclists pass vehicles in adjacent lanes by driving between them.

It saves motorcyclists time on crowded roadways, and motorcycle advocates say that the practice makes motorcycling safer by allowing riders to avoid dangerous traffic. But many car drivers hate it, saying they are often startled when a motorcycle cuts between slower moving cars with what they believe is a dangerous maneuver.

California legislation that would make it clear that motorcyclists can split lanes of traffic was tabled earlier this year. The bill’s author, Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, plans to resurrect the bill in 2016, a spokeswoman said at the time.

Quirk’s bill said motorcyclists could split lanes at no faster than 50 miles per hour. They also could not drive more than 15 miles per hour faster than the vehicles around them.

The measure found little approval from motorcycle groups, who called the proposal overly restrictive. California already has widespread acceptance of lane splitting, they said.

A May study by UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center found that of the nearly 6,000 motorcycle accidents in California from June 2012 through August 2013, about 1,000 involved lane-splitters.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews