If you are a motorist in the state of Utah, you may soon be experiencing some changes on the local roadways. Starting on May 14th, motorcyclists will now be able to “filter” to the front of traffic at stops on major roads in the state.
This is the date that the latest traffic regulation in Utah will take effect. Utah Highway Patrol got the word out to motorists early in order for them to know about the new law and not be taken by surprise.
It is possible that many motorists won’t pay attention if they feel this does new law doesn’t apply to them. However, the new regulations will be more than apparent when motorcycles start coming between them and other vehicles on the road. Officials hope that this new law will not cause aggravated behaviors because motorists feel as if someone is “cutting in line.” Authorities claim that there are significant reasons why motorcyclists are now being allowed to cut to the front of stopped traffic.
What Exactly Is “Lane Filtering”?
Under this new legislation, UHP claims:
- Motorcyclists are able to move to the front of a traffic signal on roadways where the set speed limit is 45 mph or lower and has at least two adjacent traffic lanes traveling in the same direction;
- Motorcyclists are only able to move to the front of traffic when vehicles on the road are at a stop; and
- Motorcyclists are not allowed to move faster than 15 mph when filtering lanes.
Before this new legislation was signed into law, California was the only other state in the U.S. that allowed motorcyclists to move past slower vehicles. This traffic law is known as “lane splitting” in California. However, officials claim that the new legislation in Utah concerning lane filtering is a bit different from the “lane splitting” laws practiced in California.
According to local authorities, splitting in California is admissible at highway speeds. Motorcycles are not meant to go faster than the posted speed limit but can pass other cars when they are driving slowly, allowing them to past in between vehicles. This is referred to as splitting traffic. In Utah, under the new lane filtering law, motorcycles are able to filter to the front at a red light, or riders are able to filter through traffic curing a crash when other vehicles are stopped.
In short, motorcycles can only do this in Utah when other vehicles are stopped on the road. If a car is moving, this action is still illegal.
There is an essence of subjectivity concerning the new legislation. The law requires that maneuvering around vehicles must be done in a safe manner. However, what some feel as safe may not be the same as someone else.
It is hoped that motorcyclists will use proper judgment when utilizing the liberties granted with this new law. It is important to use reason and due diligence when this maneuver should be performed. Riders need to be sure that the lane is wide enough to accommodate motorcycles. In the event that a rider knocks off a car mirror, then this would be the fault of the motorcyclist. Riders will have to stop and file a police report as in other accidents.
Where Will This Maneuver Be Allowed?
Filtering will be limited to roadways that have a set speed limit of 45 mph or lower and that have multiple lanes in the same direction.
The following streets are examples to better understand where filtering will be made legal:
- In Salt Lake County: 700 East, Foothill Boulevard, Redwood Road and State Street.
- In Utah County: 800 North (Orem), 1600 North (Orem), Geneva Road and State Street.
- In Davis/Weber counties: Antelope Drive, Harrison Boulevard, Park Lane, Parrish Lane, Riverdale Road, Washington Boulevard.
Why Was This Bill Pushed Forward
Officials from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) were initially doubtful of the new legislation in the beginning, but this changed after discussions of the bills — HB149 — concerning some chosen statistics. From 2011 to 2017 in the state of Utah, there were over 1,200 motorcyclists who were rear-ended on the roadways.
Rear-enders are common with larger motor vehicles, but these are often just cosmetic damages. Drivers will likely just have to take their car to a mechanic or body shop. This isn’t ideal. Everyone prefers that this doesn’t happen, but these accidents still take place. However, when a motorcycle is involved in a rear-end accident, there is likely to be some type of injury involved, if not death. It is important to make the roadways safer for everyone, including motorcyclists.
The final crash numbers from 2018 have not yet been released by DPS. However, there were already more reported motorcycle fatalities in the state of Utah at the start of September 2018 than during all of 2017.
It is true not all these injuries were caused by cars that rear-ended motorcycles, but many people know someone who has been involved in a deadly rear-end motorcycle crash at some point in their lives.
Salt Lake City Area Motorcycle Crashes
There are more significant risks posed to riders of motorcycles than others on the road, mostly due to the exposure of riders to roadway hazards and the lack of protection provided to them. A high percentage of motorcycle crashes involve speeding, with 35 percent of all motorcycle crashes involving unsafe speeds in 2008. Whatever the case, when a motorcyclist is injured in an accident, they are likely to sustain serious injuries and in severe cases even death. In some cases, victims of these accidents, or their surviving family members, can contact an experienced Salt Lake City motorcycle accident lawyer in order to regain lost compensation associated with the crash.
The legal experts at Siegfried & Jensen have over three decades of experiencing working on motorcycle accident cases. These cases can result in considerable damages, involving steep medical costs, lost earning ability, and pain and suffering of those involved. Contact our offices today at 801-845-9000 if you or a loved one has been injured by a careless driver in a motorcycle crash.