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Old 05-10-09, 03:26 PM   #27
T.C
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Default Re: That Filtering & Insurance Letter.

One of the main benefits of riding a motorcycle is the fact that unlike our 4 wheeled counterparts, when we come upon lines of stationary traffic, we can still make progress and filter through towards the front of the queue. Filtering has been the cause of many a debate over the years with many arguing about the legitimacy of such an action. So what is the legal position?

Well for those of you who are unsure, let me ask you a question! What is filtering? In simple terms it is an overtaking manoeuvre, and in most cases it is perfectly legal provided:
You don't cross over or straddle a solid centre white line system.
You don't overtake after a 'No Overtaking' sign.
You do not overtake the lead vehicle within the confines of the zigzags of a pedestrian/pelican crossing as it may have stopped to allow pedestrians to cross.
No danger is caused to other road users and no vehicle is caused to alter course or speed.

So in short, providing those 4 conditions are complied with then there shouldn't be a problem, however when it comes to accidents, civil liability can paint a somewhat different picture.

When a motorcyclist is involved in a filtering accident, most insurance companies will try and use the case law of Powell v Moody which dates back to 1966 to mitigate their losses. In that case a motorcyclist was overtaking a line of stationary traffic and was found to be 80% to blame when he hit a car which was 'inching out' into the carriageway after a milk tanker signalled to him to pull out. The court felt that the motorcyclist was undertaking an 'operation' which is fraught with great hazard and which needed to be carried out with great care.

In the case of Clarke v Whinchurch in 1969, an overtaking motorcyclist (Moped) in similar circumstances was found to be 100% to blame. The judge ruled that he (the motorcyclist) should have realised something was happening up ahead when a bus in a line of slow moving traffic stopped to let a vehicle out from a side road on his left. The car came out quite slowly in front of the bus and was hit by the moped. (f you are ever involved in a filtering accident, you probably won't want to quote this case to the other side).

In more recent cases (Leeson v Bevis Transport 1972) the motorcycle and emerging vehicle were found equally responsible. The court said that the motorcyclist did nothing wrong in overtaking the line of stationary vehicles, but needed to keep an effective lookout, whilst the van driver should have been aware of the possibility of vehicles overtaking in this way.

The most recent cases of this kind was in 1980 in the case of Worsford v Howe. In this instance the motorcyclist was in a separate lane intended for vehicles turning right, when he was hit by a car which was intending to cross both lanes of traffic and turn right. The court found once again that both rider and driver were equally to blame and settled 50/50, however in 2006 the case of Davis v Schrogin found 100% in favour of the filtering motorcyclist, and I can post up a transcript of that case if anyone is interested .

In filtering cases, the court will when deciding who is to blame will look at:
The speed and position of the motorcycle in the road.
Whether the stream of traffic was stationary or moving.
How fast the other vehicle emerged from the side road or from the line of traffic.

Filtering is an accepted and legitimate practice, and unless there is a case of dangerous or careless driving to answer, or one of the 4 conditions mentioned previously have been breached, then it is very rare that a Police prosecution will follow, but in terms of a civil action, then this is where the real headache can begin.

As it stands at the moment, although some of the most recent cases have found both parties equally responsible, and in some cases they courts have found 100% in favour of the motorcyclist, you have to bear in mind that you could still end up bearing 80% or even 100% of the blame depending on the evidence.

So to sum up, filtering in most cases is perfectly legal, is accepted as being a benefit of riding a motorcycle and is something that just about every rider has done at some stage without any problems, but, should you be unfortunate to have a collision whilst filtering, then just be aware of the pitfalls you are likely to encounter until such time as current case law is updated.


Overtaking/Filtering
When on the bike, I try and avoid using Motorways wherever possible but there are occasions when this is unavoidable. Statistically they are among some of the safest roads in the UK, but unfortunately they are also the only roads where learners cannot receive formal training unless you happen to be driving an HGV. As a result, many incidents that do occur on our Motorways are not only due to a lack of education and knowledge, but also the overall higher speeds, which often result in incidents, occurring with more serious consequences.

A Motorway is in most cases a three lane carriageway, which usually has a maximum permitted speed limit of 70 miles per hour (it can be lower of course). The left hand lane normally referred to as lane 1 is the driving lane and the middle and outside lanes referred to as lanes 2 and 3 are nothing more than overtaking lanes. Any vehicle that uses the Motorway must be capable of attaining a minimum speed of 25 miles per hour, otherwise certain restrictions apply.

The biggest advantage a motorcycle has over a car when on a Motorway is the fact that when faced with congestion or stationary traffic, we don't have to join the end of the queue and just sit there like our four wheeled counterparts. We can due to our lack of width filter, whether it is between vehicles or using a different lane. However, over the years there have been many debates as to what is and is not legal.

Filtering is simply another word for overtaking, but many riders are confused over the legality of this manoeuvre, either because they have been told by friends that it is illegal, or because it perhaps entails carrying out a nearside overtake, (passing on the left) which is considered by many to be also illegal.
There is nothing in law, which prevents us from overtaking provided,
Solid central white lines are not straddled or crossed over.
It is not after a 'no overtaking' sign.
Within the confines of the zigzags of a pedestrian/pelican crossing the lead vehicle which may have stopped to allow pedestrians to cross is not overtaken.
No danger is caused, and no vehicles are made to alter course or speed.

In respect of a Motorway, the only issue that becomes relative in practice is the danger issue.

In practical terms the Police have no problem with riders filtering either. However many Policemen consider a maximum speed of no more than 10 - 15 mph above the speed of the slowest moving vehicle as acceptable. Beyond this speed they would seriously consider reporting you for driving without due care and attention.

In respect of filtering down the nearside or undertaking, how many times have you been faced with stationary traffic in lanes 2 and 3, and yet lane 1 is empty? How many times have you been confronted by a car sitting in lane 2 doing 50mph with no other traffic in lane 1, but lane 3 is heaving? Have you considered going past on the nearside?

Although it goes against what is said in the Highway Code, it is in fact not illegal in itself to undertake again providing no danger is caused to other road users, and drivers are not caused to alter course or speed.

However, although the absolute offence of nearside overtake was removed from the statute books many years ago, the possibility of being reported for careless driving, or in the worst cases dangerous driving still apply.

If you filter or undertake, it is for the Police to prove that your standard of riding fell below what would be considered acceptable. And in this modern day and age, many Police cars and bikes carry video cameras. So, if you weave from lane to lane, suddenly cut across the front of overtaken vehicles, ride too aggressively between vehicles, then there is a fair chance that not only will you be able to see yourself on film, but you could end up looking at a Court appearance as well.

If as a result of you undertaking or filtering a collision occurs, then the chances are that you will be held liable. However, if you ride smoothly and safely, don't take risks, and the safety of others is not compromised then you should not have any problems.

Before carrying out any manoeuvre, always ask yourself whether it can be done safely, will other traffic be inconvenienced, and are your actions likely to really give you any benefit? If the answer to the first two is yes, then hold back until such time as an opportunity presents itself, but always be aware of the possibility of other vehicles changing lanes suddenly without warning.

Last edited by T.C; 05-10-09 at 03:29 PM.
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