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Sugar House Journal

Motorists take note: lane filtering law comes to Utah

Lane filtering law comes to Utah. (Amy Green/City Journals)

By Amy Green | [email protected]

Next time you sit in traffic on State Street and watch a motorcyclist travel down the middle of two lanes of stopped vehicles, don’t fly into road rage. This practice, known as lane filtering, is now legal. The goal is to prevent rear-end collisions between motorcyclists and approaching cars.

Utah Highway Patrol has done a thorough job of explaining House Bill 149, a new motorcycle lane filtering law (legal since May 14, 2019), effective throughout the state. A link on the UHP Facebook page explains the law in detail and shows an example of doing it the lawful way. Check out to see the action video.

Sergeant Jason Nielsen of the Sandy Police Department encouraged drivers to have motorcycle awareness. “There’s going to be a learning curve. This is something brand new to the state of Utah. Other states have similar things, but this is new to us, so hopefully that learning curve won’t cause any injuries,” Nielsen said.

All commuters should be aware of the law and have an extra eye out for motorcyclists. That way, traffic will be a safer group effort. How exactly should it be done.

Lane filtering is only legal when:

  • The posted speed limit is 45 mph or less (never on freeways)
  • The road has at least two lanes traveling in the same direction
  • The vehicles a motorcycle is passing must be stopped
  • The motorcyclist speed must be 15 mph or less
  • Above all, the movement must be made safely
  • When traffic begins moving again, the motorcyclist must safely merge back into a lane 

Street bikers are asked to follow the exact law requirements. 

“Drivers of any automobile — cars, trucks and motorcycles — need to be patient. Whether people agree with it or not, it’s the law. They’re (motorcyclists) allowed to do it,” Nielsen said. 

He gave examples of roads where lane filtering would/wouldn’t be permitted. “If it’s on Bangerter Highway, then no.” The speed limit is over 45 there. “But State Street is OK.” The higher speed freeways are illegal places. “The majority of roadways in Salt Lake Valley though, this law falls under,” he said.

Dan Smith, assistant parts manager at South Valley Motorsports has been riding street bikes for 20 years. “One scenario is being stuck in between a couple cars on the road, and seeing them on cell phones or doing something, not paying attention. I already know that I’m not going to get seen. Coming up to a stop light, I’ll move myself to the front where I know that when the light turns green, I can get out of any bad situation,” Smith said.

If one is motivated to take a motorcycle licensing class, Utah is ready to educate at driver’s ed training facilities for that, too. “There are correct ways to get introduced to the sport, mainly the Utah Rider Education has a program for new riders. They teach you all the appropriate ways to be safe in traffic and how to handle your bike,” Smith added. 

Seeing motorcycles pass everyone else can feel unfair. That’s not the intent. When done correctly, the lane filtering law has a purpose and a function, meant to protect. Sandy Police Department stats show 24 motorcycle crashes just in Sandy City in 2018, with one fatality recorded. The goal is always zero fatalities.