Filtering and/or overtaking slow moving or stationary traffic

Filtering and/or overtaking slow moving or stationary traffic

A great advantage of riding a bike is that you can often avoid getting snared in slow moving or stationary traffic with our larger, wider motoring companions by filtering or overtaking. I have been riding bikes on the road since I was 16 years old and have owned many, from my trusty Honda C90 to my ZZR1400, and have filtered on them all.

If any of you ride to and from work during rush hour like I do, that extra half an hour in bed (and I need as much beauty sleep as I can get – see my picture) rather than sitting in traffic is always a bonus. However, the issue of whether filtering is legal is always a hot topic of conversation both from a criminal and compensation point of view.

Filtering and/or overtaking and the Criminal law

Is it legal to filter or overtake slow moving/stationary traffic? In a nutshell, yes. Filtering is a legal manoeuvre that can be made on a motorcycle but the key point is only if it is safe to do so.

It always surprises a lot of bikers that the Highway Code itself is not actually ‘law’. However, while not ‘law’ it is often referred to by judges and is a good place for guidance of what bikers should do. Among other things it advises that motorcyclists (or any other vehicle for that matter) should not overtake or filter where they might come into conflict with other road users.

So filtering/overtaking is not illegal. However, if for example a biker does this on a blind bend and hits a car head-on (even traveling at half the permitted speed limit i.e. 30mph in a 60mph limit), they could be successfully prosecuted for dangerous driving. This can happen if the court found the biker’s riding fell so far below the standard expected of the “competent and careful rider” and it was obvious riding in that manner was dangerous. If convicted for dangerous driving a biker would get a minimum of 12 months disqualification from riding/driving and at worse two years in prison. This is in addition to a fine and/or court costs.

Next week Chef looks at the implications of filtering when claiming for injuries.

Andrew ‘Chef’ Prendergast
managing partner of
White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors

The MCM legal column is compiled by managing partner Andrew ‘Chef’ Prendergast and his bike riding barristers and solicitors at White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors.

Our firm deals with personal injury claims and its sister company, Motor Defence Solicitors, deals with all the motoring offences. All White Dalton lawyers know everything about bike law – and we have full bike licences too. We don’t act for insurance companies or the prosecution.

White Dalton is Britain’s most specialist motorcycle law practice, and if our professionals don’t know the answer to your question there probably isn’t one. Don’t rely on the advice from your insurance appointed solicitor, get proper independent advice.

For road traffic offences call the Motor Defence solicitors on 0800 280 0912 For non-offence cases call White Dalton motorcycle solicitors on 0800 783 6191

Posted by Andrew Prendergast. Posted on: January 8, 2013 at 12:00 am

Andrew has been riding motorcycles since he was 10 years old and currently rides a GSX1400 as his daily commuter whether it is sunny or snowing. In addition, he is currently restoring an old Honda CB750 K1. Andrew practices across all areas of motorcycle law, with his practice involving both civil claims and motoring defence work.