In March of 2022, two Republican representatives (Tyler Pace and Frank P. Carroll) sponsored a bill that changed Arizona’s motorcycle laws.
What the New Law Allows
Riders may now drive between lanes when traffic has stopped. They may then reenter traffic when it begins moving again.
Exceptions to the New Law
- Traffic must be at a halt. It is still illegal to drive between cars while traffic is moving.
- There must be at least two lanes of traffic, both facing the same direction.
- The posted speed limit must be 45 mph or less.
- Motorcycle riders must go 15 mph or less when driving between stopped vehicles.
Potential Problems with This New Law
Once a rider has pulled to the front of the line, it could be difficult to reenter the natural flow of traffic. Drivers will be eager to pull forward, and some may simply refuse to let the biker back in.
Reentry itself could be dangerous. It won’t be the same as changing lanes. Spaces are much tighter, and it is likely to be more cramped with everyone moving forward together.
Drivers Not Expecting Motorcycles
For most people, stopped traffic is their time to “relax.” They readjust their seats, play with the radio, or open doors to dump out their coffee. It’s easy to forget about the other cars around you, much less be on the lookout for motorcycles headed your way.
Fifteen miles per hour doesn’t seem fast compared to how fast a biker normally goes. However, it is still a dangerous speed to get “doored.” A biker is “doored” when an unaware driver opens a door in the biker’s path, and the biker slams into it. Getting doored can cause serious injury to someone on a bicycle, and that harm could be exponentially worse for a motorcyclist. The driver is also at risk, as they could be leaning out of the car.
Lack of Public Awareness
According to Jared Ernest, a member of the Pima County Sheriff's Department’s motor unit, "Motorcyclists need to be aware that the motorists aren't going to know what's going on and why they are splitting lanes because most people aren't aware of the law change.”
People simply won’t be expecting to see motorcycles coming down the middle of the lane, and all riders should keep this fact in mind.
What the Change Means for Riders and Drivers
If we haven’t made the point clear enough: Both riders and drivers must be extra cautious with this change.
Drivers must be aware of motorcyclist driving close to their cars. Before opening your door or putting your hand out the window for any reason, double and triple-check for oncoming motorcycles.
Riders must be aware of a stopped driver’s behavior. Always expect an open door, an errant hand or arm, or a litterbug’s flying trash.
Riders must also make sure not to get too comfortable with this law. Most motorcycle riders are safe, and they follow the rules. We have all seen riders, however, who take risky, illegal chances on the road. Don’t be overconfident when riding between stopped traffic. Keep your speed lower than 15 mph, and you may want to consider going even slower than that.
Our firm is here to help those who’ve been injured in traffic accidents. Whether you are a motorcycle rider or a car driver, we are here for you. You can schedule time with us online or call us now at (602) 483-6114.