Australia seems no closer to getting uniform lane filtering rules, judging from the comments of state ministers and shadow ministers about our recent reader poll.
The top reader responses from the more than 2500 votes cast in our poll were calls for more driver education about the benefits of lane filtering for all motorists and consistent lane filtering laws in every state.
We sent the results to every relevant state and territory minister for comment more than two weeks ago.
Those who bothered to respond to the legitimate concerns of riders – voters! – were the ministers in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT while NSW and Queensland deferred to their departments to respond. Shadow minister replies were received from Queensland, Western Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory.
Australian Motorcycle Council Chairman Peter Baulch says the lack of comments is “to be expected”.
None of the comments agreed that more could be done to educate motorists about the benefits of lane filtering.
Peter says there is “clearly … a huge need for a concerted awareness campaign (or campaigns) to educate ALL road users on exactly what ‘low speed’ lane filtering is, and why it is permitted”.
“It is evident that some ministers still do not recognise that the primary reason for filtering is safety,” he says.
“Other issues including traffic flow, decongestion, parking, etc are additional side benefits, but safety is the key factor.”
South Australia and ACT ministers and the WA shadow minister were the only ones to support “regulatory harmonisation across jurisdictions” (uniform laws).
A quite smug response from Bernard Carlon, executive director of the NSW Centre for Road Safety basically points out they were the first to introduce the laws and the other states are the ones who brought in different rules.
True, but surely there is a need for some rule changes in the name of cross-border harmony.
But no: “It is important that all road users in NSW, wherever they come from, understand the rules that apply here.”
In other words, you will be fined!
Such intransigence on uniform road rules is the “biggest single challenge” facing the various state motorcycling advocacy bodies, says Peter.
“The confusion, and ensuing penalties, created by varying rules across boarders, serves no good purpose and is a hindrance to improving safety by removing uncertainty,” he says.
Meanwhile, SA Road Safety Minister Peter Malinauskas says they are monitoring lane filtering in other states before any implementation, while the WA Shadow Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts says it is “worth consideration”.
“It makes sense to have uniform road rules around Australia and on that basis it would be good to see a national position adopted,” she says.
NT Shadow Transport Minister Ken Vowles says that as an “avid rider” who has owned Harleys, a KTM and scooter, he is “monitoring the implementation and use of lane filtering in other jurisdictions”.
The trial in the ACT ends early next seemingly with unilateral support that it has been a success.
So far we have received nothing from Tasmania.