Road safety regulations are a confusing and complex subject for motorists. Lane splitting is one of the most hotly contested issues among motorcycle riders. Everyone has a view on whether lane splitting in Texas is legal or not.
So, is lane splitting legal in Texas?
The answer is no. Road safety regulations state that all road users must remain in a single lane of traffic in Texas and only change lanes when it is safe to do so.
Yet, this law could change in the near future. If successful, this could mean significant changes for riders across the state.
Motorcycle lane splitting is the act of a motorcycle riding along the white dashed lines between two lanes of traffic. This is commonly done in slow-moving traffic to cut down on commuting times.
Many riders believe that lane splitting is legal because it’s something many motorcycle riders do. However, it’s illegal, and if an accident occurs, you could be charged with breaking road safety laws.
The truth is Texas has no law that explicitly mentions lane splitting. Texas Transportation Code § 545.060 states that all road users must remain within a single lane, which essentially does make lane splitting illegal.
Can you lane split in Texas?
The answer is no. Although enforcement may be rare, you could be pulled over, and you could find yourself in legal trouble if you do it and an accident occurs.
Attempts have been made to legalize the practice of motorcycle lane splitting in Texas, but nothing has yet come to pass. Advocates for the practice are currently looking towards the 2021 legislative session to advocate for it.
Lane splitting has been a contentious issue across the country. There are currently multiple states considering the formal recognition of legal lane splitting. These are Georgia, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Washington.
Utah passed legislation enabling the similar practice of lane filtering in 2019, which allows motorcyclists to proceed to the front of a line of traffic at intersections. This is just short of full lane splitting.
Can motorcycles split lanes in Texas anytime soon? There have been attempts recently to legalize lane splitting throughout the state.
2015 saw two separate bills filed on both sides of the aisle of the Texas legislature. Both bills proposed enabling lane splitting on certain roads where traffic was moving at 20mph or less. Neither proceeded past the committee stage as the legislative session ended.
In 2017, the action was taken again by Democrat Kirk Watson of Austin. However, SB 288 was struck down by the Texas Senate Transportation Committee.
Where is Lane Splitting Legal?
Governor Jerry Brown of California recognized lane splitting when he signed the bill into law in August 2016. This enables motorcyclists to lane split, with a recommendation to not split lanes over 30 mph.
Is lane splitting legal anywhere else?
Not yet. California remains the only state to legalize the practice. Keep in mind, there are many states where lane splitting isn’t illegal, but it also isn’t recognized in law.
Lane splitting in Texas can come with penalties if a highway patrolman decides to pull you over. The most common penalty is a fine of $175. Under Texas law, motorcyclists are categorized in the same way as cars; therefore, the same safety regulations apply.
If an accident occurs as a result of lane splitting, the motorcyclist could be declared negligent because they were driving in a way that could be interpreted as reckless.
Due to the fact Texas is a comparative negligence state, this could reduce any compensation to which you were entitled.
Advocates for lane splitting say that lane splitting helps to reduce the number of rear-end accidents. With motorcyclists being 27 times more likely to die on America’s roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), campaigners cite studies revealing a decrease in accidents where lane splitting is permitted.
On the other hand, opponents say that lane splitting is reckless and increases the chances of an accident. This is especially true, they say, when passing different sized vehicles.
There are two convincing arguments, but regardless of which side you’re on, lane splitting remains a traffic violation for the time being. Just because you see other riders lane splitting doesn’t alter that fact.
With efforts being made in 2021 to legalize lane splitting, Texas’s road safety laws could be changing.
But is lane splitting legal in Texas right now?
The answer is no. Lane splitting in Texas currently remains a traffic violation and could lead to reduced compensation if you’re involved in an accident.
If you’re a motorcyclist that has been involved in an accident while lane splitting, contact Thomas J Henry Law today, trusted Texas car accident lawyers, to discuss your legal options.