Should Motorcycles Be Allowed Between Lanes
of Traffic in Arizona? Bill Says Yes
When you’re driving in California, do you like when motorcyclists cut between lanes of traffic?
While advocates see legalizing lane-splitting as a way to save time and improve safety for
motorcyclists, some authorities worry it would lead to more crashes.
State Senator David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, recently introduced the bill for the coming legislative
session, which begins in January. Farnsworth told the Arizona Capitol Times, which first
reported the story, that he’s not “passionate” about it, and that he introduced the bill after a
request by a constituent.
However, Farnsworth told Phoenix New Times that he would become enthusiastic about lane-
splitting if he saw more statistics that showed it was safe.
“I’m reasonably convinced that it will improve safety,” he said, adding that he hopes to see facts
and good debate about the practice in legislative committees next year.
The bill, SB 1007, strikes out the clauses in statute that make lane-splitting, also known as
filtering, illegal. In other words, if the bill became law, it would allow motorcyclists to “overtake
and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken,” and also would allow
motorcycles to operate “between the lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles.”
The bill also directs the Arizona Department of Public Safety to “develop educational guidelines”
for lane-splitting alongside other state agencies.
But there is opposition at the capitol.
“We don’t like the idea,” said Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway
Safety. Officials with the Arizona Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety
“agreed it’s a very dangerous practice.”
Former Governor Jan Brewer vetoed an Arizona bill in 2010 that would have allowed motorcycle
lane-splitting for one year as a test, but only in counties with more than 2 million residents. (Which
meant only Maricopa County.) Brewer wrote in a veto letter that she was concerned that some people
didn’t see it as safe, and that one year might not be enough time to educate the public about it.
Lane-splitting has long been tolerated by police in California. The state further formalized the
practice last year with a law that directs the Highway Patrol to develop guidelines for it.
Fatalities related to lane-splitting do sometimes occur in California, though, and it remains a somewhat
controversial issue, though. In 2015, a study by the University of California, Berkeley, found that
filtering is “relatively safe” when performed at speeds under 50 mph.
Still, polls have found that the vast majority of in California don’t like it.