The debate (and research) about the safety of filtering (lane splitting) continues to be a hot one.  And now, a five-year-long French study concludes that lane filtering motorcycles are 12 percent more likely to crash.

Filtering findings

France’s Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility, and Planning (CEREMA) carried out the research.  The Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (French Federation of Angry Motorcycles according to Google Translate) (FFMC) helped set up the filtering guidelines.

The conclusion?  An increase of 12 percent more crashes where filtering is allowed.  During the same timeframe, in the other departments, motorcycle crashes dropped by about 10%.


Photo credit: Law Abiding Biker Podcast

For some, the results are somewhat surprising.  Especially when the study says that lane filtering awareness training for car drivers was successful.  Even more, the study says that car drivers took well to filtering motorcyclists.

Differing opinions

FFMC Board Member Eric Thiollier thinks the results of the lane filtering study are positive:

The behaviour and the safety records improved significantly during the five year period of the experiment, showing that setting rules had a positive impact, although not enough to be satisfying. The increase in accidents could also be linked to the fact that more powered two-wheelers were lane-splitting.  Thankfully, it appears the organizers of the first study are gearing up for a second study to see how splitting could be made safer in the region.

However, not everyone agrees with the FFMC.  CEREMA submits its findings to the Interministerial Delegate for Road Safety (DISR).  And Marie Gautier-Melleray, the Interministerial Delegate for Road Safety, thinks that the result is somewhat different:

“The aim of this experiment was to reduce the accidents of motorised two-wheelers by framing the practice of lane splitting in the departments concerned. However, the result is not up to our expectations since the ratio of accidents on the experiment’s networks compared to other networks has increased significantly in one zone and is increasing slightly elsewhere. A new experiment, with appropriate rules, could therefore be envisaged in order to ensure the safe continuation of this practice.  A second, more in-depth experiment should include the widening of the geographical areas concerned, new traffic rules, an automated data collection methodology, adapted and continuous communication to perfect the education of all road users on the subject.”

More research

So there are at least two trains of thought on whether lane filtering is more or less dangerous.  It’s interesting to see that both FFMC and CEREMA want more research performed before making a final determination.  And that’s positive.  They have identified some facts but want more before drawing a definitive conclusion.  Let’s hope that the second study provides more clarity in the future.

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