To Filter or Not Filter: Lane Filtering and Other Rules Relating to Motorcyclists

In 2013 there were 6,921 hospitalised casualties as a result of motor vehicle accidents in Queensland. Of these 6,921 hospitalised casualties, 930 were as a result of accidents involving motorcycles.That is approximately 13% of all accidents that cause hospitalised casualties. In Queensland as at 30 June 2014, motorcycles made up approximately 4% of all registered vehicles in Queensland, yet were involved in 13% of all accidents that resulted in hospitalised casualties.

At the beginning of February 2015 the Queensland government introduced new laws relating to motorcycle riders in Queensland.

These new laws provide some clarity in relation to the behaviour of motorcycle riders that often blurred the lines of whether it was within the law or not. The main focus of the changes appears to relate to lane filtering (where motorcycle riders drive between two vehicles in a line of traffic). Prior to the introduction of the new laws, motorcyclists who were lane filtering or splitting, were potentially breaking the road rules for failing to stay within a marked lane or not indicating while changing lanes.

The new lane filtering rules allow motorcycle riders who have their open motorcycle licence to travel between the cars in lanes of traffic provided both lanes are travelling in the same direction as the motorcyclist and that the speed of the traffic and the motorcyclist does not exceed 30km/hr. These allowances do not apply to those motorcycle riders who hold a provisional or learner motorcycle licence. It is important to note that lane filtering/splitting is not allowed where the speed will exceed 30km/hr. Failure to adhere to this rule may result in a fine of $341 and the loss of 3 demerit points.

Motorcyclists who hold an open motorcycle licence are also able to travel on the road shoulder or the emergency stopping lane of a road where the speed limit is 90km/hr or more, providing they are overtaking stationary or slow moving traffic and they do not exceed a speed of 30km/hr.

There has previously been social media attention revolving around the rules associated with keeping control of a motorcycle, in particular the requirement that a motorcyclist have both feet and hands on the motorcycle at all times. These rules have now been removed, allowing motorcycle riders the ability to remove their feet to reverse their motorcycles and stretch their legs to prevent fatigue while riding without fear of breaking the road rules.

The new rules relating to motorcycle riders can be found on the Department of Transport and Main Roads website at

As the number of vehicles on the road at any one time is increasing every year, it is important that all road users take an interest in road safety. The new motorcycle laws not only impact on motorcycle riders but also on other road users. Drivers of motor vehicles need to make sure that they are paying attention at all times, even more so when changing lanes and merging now that lane filtering is allowed for motorcycle riders in certain circumstances. It only takes a split second for an accident to occur due to inattention, and it is the obligation of all road users to look out for one another and take care on our roads.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact us so that we can discuss your options with you.

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