If you’re an Arizona motorcyclist, you’ll want to be aware of the state’s new lane filtering laws. Lane filtering is now legal in Arizona under specific circumstances. All motorists, including motorcyclists and drivers of passenger vehicles, need to understand this new rule to keep the road as safe as possible.
What Is Lane Filtering?
Lane filtering is a motorcycle riding technique specifically for intersections with traffic lights. When lane filtering, motorcyclists filter their way to the front of the intersection, driving between stopped vehicles.
This practice can allow motorcyclists to avoid the stop-and-go nature of intersection traffic that sometimes puts them at risk of a collision. Unfortunately, because motorcycles are smaller than passenger vehicles, some drivers do not notice them and give themselves enough space to make a sudden stop.
Lane filtering is also an important option for motorcyclists in hot states like Arizona. Sitting in stopped traffic on a hot day can cause motorcycles to reach uncomfortable temperatures. Instead, lane filtering allows motorcyclists to continue moving and avoid overheating.
New Arizona Lane Filtering Laws
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey introduced Senate Bill 1273 on March 24, 2022. This bill became law and went into effect on September 24, 2022.
This bill allows riders of two-wheeled motorcycles to overtake other vehicles that are stopped, in the same direction of travel, and in the same lane as the biker. The rider may operate the motorcycle between these lanes of traffic under the following circumstances:
- The motorcyclist is on a street with at least two adjacent traffic lanes in the same direction and a speed limit that is 45 miles per hour or less
- The motorcyclist travels 15 miles per hour or slower
- The motorcyclist judges that the maneuver can be made safely
This bill only applies to two-wheel vehicles and does not include motorcycles with sidecars.
Lane Filtering vs. Lane Splitting
Many motorcyclists confuse the practices of lane filtering and lane splitting. Unfortunately, misinformation about this new law has circulated throughout the state, and some articles have used the terms lane filtering and lane splitting interchangeably.
Lane splitting, or the practice of riding your bike between lanes of traffic at speeds above a slow or stopped pace, is still illegal in Arizona. The only state in which this practice is currently legal is California.
The new Arizona law is only for lane filtering in very specific circumstances. Senator Tyler Pace, who sponsored this bill, states that it is crafted to resemble a similar lane filtering initiative in Utah.
The main difference between lane splitting and lane filtering is the speed of the surrounding vehicles. Lane filtering is only permitted between stopped traffic. Meanwhile, lane splitting can include riding between moving vehicles, which can put you at risk of an accident.
How to Safely Lane Filter
Just because lane filtering is now legal in Arizona does not mean you should filter between stopped traffic every time you come up to an intersection. Instead, we recommend reserving this maneuver for the following instances:
- Traffic is severely backed up
- You’re concerned about your motorcycle overheating
- There is plenty of room between stopped lanes of traffic for you to navigate
When you begin lane filtering, remember that you do not necessarily need to travel the entire stretch of road until the intersection. You can always pull into a lane and reassess your surroundings before continuing.
Since lane filtering is now legal in Arizona, you can use this practice to stay safer on the road. If you ever become an accident victim, contact our Law Tigers team at 1-888-863-7216 for assistance. And while you are here, go register for your FREE Law Tigers Rider’s Benefit Kit.