New lane filtering law protects motorcyclists

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On April 4, Senate Bill 24-079 on lane filtering was signed into law, permitting motorcycles to pass between vehicles stopped on the roadway. CDOT’s priority is to keep our roads safe and make sure all motorists are aware of the lane filtering law.

The law becomes effective Aug. 7, 2024. Once in place, it will allow motorcyclists to pass or overtake other vehicles if:

  • The other vehicles are stopped, such as waiting at a traffic light.
  • The lanes used to ride between cars are wide enough for safe passing.
  • The motorcycle, when passing, does not exceed 15 miles per hour.
  • When stopped vehicles begin to move, the motorcyclist shall cease passing.

A motorcycle rider must not overtake or pass:

  • On the right shoulder.
  • To the right of a vehicle in the farthest right-hand lane.
  • In a lane of traffic moving in the opposite direction.

CDOT will complete a report on lane filtering by the beginning of 2027. The report will include information on motorcycle rear-end crashes, the severity of rear-end crashes in heavy traffic, and motorcycle side-swipe crashes while overtaking or passing at a rate of less than 15 miles per hour before and after the effective date of the law.

Blue and yellow graphic announcing lane filtering law in Colorado with illustration of a green motorcycle passing between stopped white vehicles at a red light.
Graphic announcing lane filtering law in Colorado with an illustration of a green motorcycle passing between stopped white vehicles at a red light. On graphic copy reads "New law. Lane filtering is legal effective August 7th, 2024. Motorcycles may pass between stopped vehicles on a roadway under these conditions: the shoulder is not used for passing; the lanes are wide enough to pass safely; the motorcycle does not exceed 15 miles per hour. Lane splitting remains illegal.”

Although motorcycle deaths decreased slightly in 2023, the safety of these vulnerable road users remains a top concern. Motorcycles represent less than 3% of all vehicles on the road, yet motorcyclists represent almost 20% of the deaths. This new law could go a long way in saving lives: it prevents motorcycles from getting hit from behind by much larger vehicles, which can cause serious, if not fatal, injuries to motorcycle riders.

This summer, CDOT is reminding riders to wear a helmet, keep speeds down, have an endorsement on their license and never ride impaired. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that speed and alcohol are large contributing factors in motorcycle crashes. Between 2021 and 2023, 26% of motorcycle traffic deaths involved an impaired rider. Of the 134 motorcyclists killed on Colorado roads in 2023, half of the riders (67) were not wearing a helmet.

The Colorado State Patrol’s Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) helps motorcyclists ride safely, further, and stay alive. Riders who pass a MOST class can simply take their completion card to a state driver’s license office to get an endorsement with no further testing needed. Visit the MOST homepage to learn more about the MOST program or find a course near you.