Lane Splitting - Motorcycle Accidents

Can Motorcyclists Split Lanes in Texas?

Sep 13, 2023 | Motorcycle Accident

In some states, those riding motorcycles are allowed to get around traffic by using a technique called lane splitting. Lane splitting is a practice where motorcyclists ride between slow-moving or stopped traffic lanes. Lane Splitting has both benefits and risks involved. As a Texas motorcyclist, it’s important to understand the legality of lane splitting and its implications in the event of an accident.

The Legality of Lane Splitting in Texas

In Texas, lane splitting is illegal. However, there is no specific law prohibiting lane splitting. Under Texas Driving  Section 545.060 of the Texas Transportation Code, all drivers and motorcyclists must drive within a single lane. Since lane splitting involves motorcycles slipping between larger moving vehicles, traffic officials consider the maneuver unsafe under current laws.

Penalties and Legalization Efforts

If caught lane splitting, motorcyclists in Texas may face a fine of $175. However, it’s worth noting that there is an effort to legalize lane splitting in the state. Senate Bill 288 is currently under consideration in the Texas Senate. This bill would make lane splitting legal for motorcyclists across the state, with certain restrictions. It proposes allowing motorcyclists to pass traffic at speeds no greater than five miles per hour faster than surrounding traffic and sets a speed limit of 20 mph for lane-splitting motorcycles.

Lane splitting, lane filtering, and lane sharing are similar concepts that differ in their legal status.

While the terms “lane splitting,” “lane filtering,” and “lane sharing” are sometimes used interchangeably, they describe three distinct actions motorcyclists can perform on the road.

  • Lane Splitting – Lane splitting is when a motorcycle rider operates their vehicle between rows of stopped or moving cars in the same lane. Lane splitting is illegal in Texas, but most states have no laws forbidding it. California is the only state to enact a law that allows lane splitting.
  • Lane Filtering – In 2019, Utah became the first state to endorse lane filtering. Lane filtering is when a motorcyclist moves between two lanes of traffic to the front of stopped cars at an intersection. In other words, when traffic is stopped at a stop sign or red light, a motorcyclist may travel to the front of the line.
  • Lane Sharing – Lane sharing is a technique that allows two motorcyclists to be side-by-side or staggered in the same lane. In Texas, two motorcyclists may legally share a lane, positioned side-by-side.

Is Lane Splitting safe?

Advocates of lane splitting argue that it offers several potential benefits for motorcyclists and motorists alike:

  • Reduced Traffic Congestion: By allowing motorcyclists to move between lanes during heavy traffic, lane splitting can alleviate congestion, resulting in smoother traffic flow overall.
  • Pothole and Debris Avoidance: Motorcyclists often encounter hazards that are less significant for larger vehicles, such as potholes, debris, or oil spills. Lane splitting can enable motorcyclists to avoid these hazards and maintain a higher level of safety.
  • Decreased Risk of Rear-End Collisions: Rear-end collisions are a leading cause of accidents for motorcyclists, often resulting in severe injuries. Lane splitting can minimize this risk by reducing the chances of motorcyclists being struck from behind.

Risks and Liability

While proponents argue for the potential benefits of lane splitting, there are valid concerns and risks associated with this practice:

  • Increased Risk of Accidents: Critics argue that lane splitting increases the risk of accidents, specifically side-swiping collisions. Motorcycles maneuvering between vehicles near the edge of a lane may be difficult for drivers to spot, leading to unpredictable movements and potential accidents.
  • Unpredictable Motorcyclist Behavior: Lane splitting can lead to varying speeds and positions of motorcyclists within lanes, making it more challenging for drivers to anticipate the behavior of those sharing the road.
  • Legal and Motorcycle Insurance Issues: The lack of explicit laws regarding lane splitting in Texas raises questions about the liability and legal responsibility in the event of an accident involving a motorcyclist who was lane splitting.

While lane splitting might become legal in the future, it’s essential to recognize the risks involved. According to the articles referenced, lane splitting can be dangerous even when legal. Motorcycles lack the protection of larger vehicles, making accidents more severe. If a lane-splitting accident occurs, multiple parties could be held liable. The driver who changed lanes without warning may be held responsible for failing to execute a lane change safely. Additionally, the motorcyclist might bear some responsibility if they fail to operate their vehicle safely. If you have been in an accident, call a trusted attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Call Houston Motorcycle Accident Attorney – Walker Texas Lawyer

As it stands, lane splitting is illegal in Texas. However, efforts are underway to legalize the practice through Senate Bill 288. While waiting for potential changes in the law, motorcyclists and motorists should prioritize road safety. Drivers must remain attentive and check their surroundings before changing lanes. Motorcyclists should exercise caution and adhere to existing traffic laws.

If you have been involved in a lane-splitting accident or any other motorcycle accident in Texas, seeking legal advice is crucial. Contact a trusted personal injury attorney, Walker Texas Lawyer. He will review your case and provide guidance based on the specific circumstances.

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