Is Red Light Filtering Legal?

Should red light filtering be legalized in Texas

We recently ran an article about legalizing lane splitting in Texas. That article received a good amount of attention, and got me thinking as Jen and I watched the car a lane over check Facebook while rolling to the stop light. What about red light safety. Red light filtering is a common traffic filtering safety practice among motorcyclist that surely angers drivers every day. If you’ve been around other riders, then chances are you’ve known someone killed at a red light. That person probably was killed by a distracted driver passing McDonald’s to the backseat or texting on their phone. The driver thought they checked, but only saw the car’s break lights because they were too distracted. Maybe the biker wasn’t killed but just hit and now at 25 has to walk with a cane because someone else couldn’t be bothered to drive a large, and potentially deadly piece of machinery, attentively.

Is red light filtering dangerous?

No! Red light filtering is almost always done around stopped cars and at very low speeds. Our previous article on lane splitting pointed out, the risks of injury or accident at these low speeds is almost non-existent. The risk in red light filtering are incidents of road rage with angry drivers being passed by bikers who don’t “wait their turn.” The misconception of car drivers is that the bikers are simply being rude reckless drivers, when in fact their driving defensively given their mode of transportation.

Did you know that 1 in 3 Americans know someone injured or killed at a red light. What is dangerous, is sitting on a motorcycle, hoping that truck pulling up saw you and not just the sedan’s brake lights in front of you.

Cars and trucks have the advantage of being surrounded by air bags and crash cages, bikes have the advantage of maneuverability.  Filtering vehicles aren’t slowing down the traffic, just like lane splitting motorcycles aren’t causing the traffic delays. What red light filtering is doing is using the already stopped cars to create a buffer between the biker and the cars still coming to a stop. Essentially the motorcyclist is choosing to possibly piss off one driver to reduce the risk of being murdered by another. If a car or motorcycle is going to get hit by another car, the best case is for the car to take the impact.

Advantages of red light filtering

Aside from safety for the motorcycles or scooters, red light filtering offers advantages to everyone else also. Filtering bikes will work their way to the front and accelerate much faster than the cars behind them. When you have a bunch of vehicles maneuver out of your way quicker you get some relief from the traffic congestion we all despise. Maybe instead of getting angry with the two wheeled machines heading to the front of the intersection, you should be thanking them for getting out of your way. It may appear that they are slowing you down at a stop, but once you get going give them a few seconds and see how many are left in your sights. That’s a win-win, the mopeds, scooters, motorcycles have open road and reduced risk of being struck from behind. The cars have open road in front and less congestion to contend with.

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about motorcycles among the non-riding public. No doubt the argument that riders should just wait their turn will be  made. I hope that regardless of the objections made, safety measures like this can be looked at and possibly given legal status. If a maneuver saves time and lives like red light filtering does, then it is not going to stop ever. Instead, the best approach would be to educate other drivers about it and set expectations for lane sharing for these maneuvers. Then we could reduce the road rage because every cager would already know bikes do this for safety reasons not just to be rude.

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A Web Developer by trade, find me on Github
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.