As Arizona Revised Statute 28-903.F finally takes effect, the Grand Canyon State has become the fourth state in the nation to allow motorcycles to lane filter under specific circumstances.
Lane filtering is defined as motorcycle riders passing between cars. The law was signed by Governor Doug Ducey (R) in March 2022 and went into effect on September 24th. Advocates of the new law say that this is not the same as lane splitting, which is when motorcycles go between cars at regular speeds.
The law enables motorcyclists to move between rows of stationary cars waiting at a stoplight and move to the front of the line. The purpose of this is to prevent motorcycles from being sandwiched between two cars and reduce the risk of cyclists getting rear-ended.
“For a motorcyclist to get to the front of the queue or the line and be able to create time and pace in front of traffic, that’s really important,” said Bill Seltzer with Arizona Motorcyclists Training Centers. “If we’re stuck in amongst cars we’re really difficult to see so being able to get out in front makes us more visible.”
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) told ABC15 in March 2022 that the law is meant to improve safety by reducing rear-end collisions. The most recent 2021 Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) crash report found that rear-end collisions were the most common type of crash in the state.
“If they’re stopped and somebody comes in very fast… going to hit them from behind – that way they can move a little bit away. They won’t get hit from behind which is what is the most dangerous part of a crash,” elaborated Alberto Gutier with the GOHS.
Advocates also say that the practice will save motorcyclists time and fuel as well as help prevent motorcycles from overheating while sitting in traffic.
The law, of course, has strict limitations. Motorcyclists cannot travel between traffic on the highways, for instance. Lane filtering is only legal on surface streets with speed limits of 45 MPH or lower, and when motorcyclists perform the maneuver, they cannot go faster than 15 MPH.
California was the first state to adopt a similar law in 2016, followed by Utah in 2019 and Montana last year.
Seltzer says the law should help reduce the number of collisions but insists that bikers still have a responsibility to road safety and should only pass through traffic when it is safe to do so.