On February 6, 2023, House Bill 1046 was introduced in the state of Missouri. If enacted, it would amend existing Missouri state law regarding motorcycle lane filtering. According to the new text, lane filtering would be allowed within the state, but lane splitting would not. Details delineating how the two practices differ from one another are spelled out in the text of the proposed amendment.
The introduction of this bill comes about two and a half years following the repeal of Missouri’s state helmet law. On July 14, 2020, the Show Me state officially allowed motorcyclists aged 26 or older to ride their bikes without helmets, as long as they meet certain criteria. To qualify, riders must have a full motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license, as well as have proof of health insurance.
According to proponents of the 2023 Missouri house bill regarding lane filtering, the intervening years have seen an uptick in riders who exhibit what some feel is unsafe lane splitting behavior. If lane filtering is better defined, riders will have a clearer idea of what is considered acceptable behavior in traffic and what is not.
The text of HB 1046 defines lane filtering as being “between rows of stopped or slow-moving vehicles that are traveling in the same direction as the motorcycle on divided or undivided streets, roads, or highways.” Furthermore, it defines lane splitting as being “between rows of fast-moving vehicles that are traveling in the same direction as the motorcycle on divided or undivided streets, roads, or highways.”
As you might note, usage of words like “slow-moving” and “fast-moving” leaves room for interpretation and uncertainty. That’s why the paragraph following these two definitions clarifies the matter as “an operator of a motorcycle may overtake and pass vehicles in the same lane occupied by a vehicle being overtaken, or between the lanes of two vehicles being overtaken, so long as the operator of the motorcycle is traveling at a rate of speed not more than ten miles per hour over the speed of traffic flow and not more than twenty-five miles per hour.”
It goes on to state, in no uncertain terms, that “nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing lane splitting,” and also that “any operator of a motor vehicle who intentionally impedes or attempts to prevent any operator of a motorcycle from operating his or her motorcycle as permitted under this subsection shall be guilty of an infraction.”
Finally, it states that “the Missouri State Highway Patrol may develop educational guidelines related to lane filtering in a manner that would ensure the safety of the motorcycle operator and the drivers and passengers of the surrounding vehicles.”
Missouri House Bill 1046 was introduced on February 6, 2023, as part of the state’s 102nd General Assembly. It is sponsored by state representative Doug Mann. As of February 13, 2023, it is not currently on a House calendar, and its most recent status is “read second time” on February 7, 2023. If you live in the state of Missouri, and you support the idea of clarifying lane filtering within your state’s law, you may want to reach out to your elected representative to express your support.