On March 21, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed H.B. 149 into law, making the state the second to legalize lane filtering.
Under Utah’s new law, motorcyclists can ride between lanes at speeds up to 15 mph when traffic is completely stopped, but only on roads with two or more lanes and speed limits of 45 mph or less.
Utah and California are now the only states that explicitly allow motorcyclists to ride between lanes under certain conditions. Many states ban the practice, and others have no specific regulations on the books, leaving riders and law enforcement to use their best judgment.
Hawaii recently took a different approach to the issue by passing a law to allow “shoulder surfing” – maneuvering past heavy traffic using the freeway shoulders. As of January 1, motorcyclists are allowed to travel at 10 mph or less in the shoulder when other traffic is stopped.
The terms “lane filtering” and “lane splitting” are often used interchangeably, but they’re slightly different in practice. Lane filtering happens when traffic is completely stopped, while riders who are lane splitting move between lanes while the traffic around them is still in motion.
The U.S. is one of the few countries that frown upon the practices. Riding between lanes of slowed or stopped traffic is expected in many other parts of the world, including Asia and Europe.
Riders, drivers, and lawmakers across the country have debated the issue for years, with one side arguing lane splitting and filtering help protect riders in heavy traffic and the other claiming motorcyclists just want to skip the lines.
The American Motorcycle Association supports the practices as a line of defense for riders in bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic, which is one of the most dangerous environments for motorcyclists.
Do you think lane filtering helps keep riders safe, or does it add to the dangers on the road? Tell us your opinion in the comments.