Motorcycle lane-filtering is to be allowed on roads in the state of South Australia, beginning April 15, 2017. This change in road rules is implemented by the South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) on safety grounds, in order to reduce a rider’s “risk of being hit from behind by an inattentive driver.”

The move is to improve safety for motorcycle riders as it will allow greater control over exposure to traffic, particularly from vehicles following behind. From the DPTI website, “South Australia is aligning our laws with similar laws interstate. Lane filtering is currently allowed in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, and is being trialled in the ACT.”

There are several restrictions in place for motorcycle lane-filtering in Australia, foremost amongst which is only full motorcycle license holders are allowed to do so. Other restrictions include filtering only when traffic is at 30 km/h or less, and no filtering at school zones and pedestrian crossings, or between parked or moving cars and a kerb.

Learner riders and P-permit holders are not allowed to lane-filter, and riders are forbidden from using bicycle, bus or tram lanes to filter. Failure to abide by these lane-filtering rules will attract an AUSD 363 (RM1,232) fine, and three demerit points on the rider’s license.

In Malaysia, and a lot of other ASEAN countries, motorcycles splitting lanes in traffic has been accepted practice for decades. However, with the increase in traffic density on urban roads, the margin for error has diminished, with the resulting increase in collisions and broken wing mirrors.

Kapchai riders are notorious for this, weaving in between cars at unsafe speeds. On the other hand, as an experiment, the author tried riding Kuala Lumpur city roads the same way he would in, say, Europe or US states, excluding California, where lane-splitting is legal.

What was found is that Malaysian drivers are unused to this, and the fear factor of being rear-ended by an inattentive driver playing with the mobile phone increased tremendously.

What do you think? Is the attitude of both Malaysian drivers and riders in need of improvement? Should lane-filtering continue to be accepted traffic practice locally? Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions below.