Motorcycle lane filtering

Motorcycle riders in the Northern Territory with an unrestricted, full or open motorcycle licence are permitted to safely lane filter between stationary or slow moving traffic moving in the same direction of travel, provided they do not exceed 30km/h and it is safe to do so.

Lane filtering should improve safety for motorcycle riders as it will give them greater control over their exposure to traffic. There is evidence that the risk of death or serious injury is less when a motorcycle is struck at 30km/h. Moving in between two lanes of stationary or slow moving traffic may reduce a motorcycle rider’s risk of being hit from behind by an inattentive driver and can improve traffic flow.

Police can charge riders with a number of existing road traffic offences if lane filtering is done in a negligent or dangerous manner.

This rule is currently allowed or being trialled in other jurisdictions. If you intend to travel interstate you should check the relevant state or territory's laws about lane filtering, as they may vary.

A birds of view of a busy street filled with cars, a truck, a bus and a motorcycle.

When is lane filtering permitted?

When lane filtering, motorcycle riders are required to ride with due care for all other road users.

To minimise safety risks, lane filtering is:

  • only permitted when it is safe for motorcycle riders to do so
  • only permitted when travelling at speeds less than 30km/h
  • only permitted for unrestricted, full or open motorcycle licensed riders
  • not allowed for riders on their learner, provisional or restricted motorcycle licence
  • not allowed in school zones during school zone hours
  • not allowed next to the kerb or parked vehicles.

Motorcycle riders are advised to also:

  • not lane filter near heavy vehicles or buses as the drivers of these larger vehicles find it harder to see motorcyclists
  • always look out for pedestrians and cyclists.

Who is allowed to lane filter?

Lane filtering requires a high level of technical ability, road awareness and hazard perception. Without these skills, lane filtering can be dangerous and put motorcycle riders, as well as other road users at risk.

Motorcycle riders must ride according to their jurisdictions licence provisions. Motorcycle riders are permitted to lane filter if they hold an:

  • unrestricted R class rider licence
  • full R class rider licence
  • open R class rider licence.

Road users not permitted to lane filter include:

  • learner, provisional or restricted R class motorcycle NT licence holders
  • moped riders who hold a C class drivers licence
  • cyclists (existing law applies to cyclists)
  • interstate or international riders with an equivalent interstate or international learner or provisional type of licence.

Illegal types of overtaking

Lane splitting

Lane splitting is where a motorcycle rider moves past stationary or moving traffic at an unsafe speed of more than 30km/h. This increases the unpredictability of their movements for other road users. Lane splitting increases the crash risk for motorcyclists and other road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists.

The higher speeds involved in lane splitting also result in higher impact speeds in the event of a crash. The higher the impact speed in a crash, the higher the risk of casualties, especially for motorcyclists.

Lane splitting is not safe and is illegal in the Northern Territory.

Edge filtering

Edge filtering is when a motorcycle rider changes direction to move towards the edge, kerb or shoulder of the road to:
  • pass one or more vehicles on the road
  • or pass between two vehicles, one of which is parked.
Edge filtering is not permitted for motorcycle riders in the Northern Territory. This is considered dangerous for the rider, other motorists and pedestrians.