If you have ever seen a motorcyclist traveling down the center dotted line between two lanes of traffic heading in the same direction, then you have seen lane splitting. This practice is legal in certain states across the country, and studies have even shown that there are benefits to lane splitting for motorcyclists. However, we need to look at what Texas law says about lane splitting, and all motorcyclists need to take the steps necessary to remain legal on state roadways.
As we mentioned, lane splitting is legal in some states around the country. However, this practice is not legal in Texas. The transportation code adopted in this state in 2015 says that all vehicles should drive completely in a single lane and not between lanes. This includes motorcycles. There are no specific laws in Texas regarding lane splitting or lane filtering for motorcycles.
California was the first state to legalize lane splitting, and it is also where one of the most comprehensive lane splitting studies came out. At UC Berkeley, a Safe Transportation Research & Education Center (SafeTrec) study found that motorcycles were less likely to be involved in rear-end collisions when there were heavy traffic collisions if the motorcyclist was allowed to travel between other vehicles moving in the same direction (lane splitting). The study also found that motorcyclists were less likely to sustain fatal injuries as well as injuries to their extremities, torso, and head if they were allowed to lane split.
However, there is a caveat to this – the study found that lane splitting is safe so long it is done in traffic moving at 50 mph or less and as long as motorcyclists do not exceed the speed of surrounding traffic by more than 15 mph.
The idea here is that motorcyclists face more dangers when stuck in congested traffic. The stop-and-go nature of this traffic means that motorcyclists are more likely to sustain rear-end collision injuries than other drivers and passengers on the roadway.
Regardless of what the studies say, lane splitting remains illegal in most places around the country.
The law in Texas regarding lane splitting could indeed change, and there have been attempts made to do so. Lane splitting has been on the legislative agenda before, and there have been several change.org petitions created in an effort to encourage the Texas Senate and House to legalize lane splitting, beginning in their respective transportation committees. However, the transportation committees are about as far as this bill usually gets. Typically, these committees do not pass the lane splitting legislature to the floor for a final vote.
If you have any interest in lane splitting for motorcyclists, you can make your voice heard by contacting your local state representative or senator and telling them your opinion on the practice.
If you regularly operate in traditional motor vehicles, we still encourage you to be aware that lane splitting could occur around you. If you do see a motorcycle lane splitting, even though it is illegal in this state, do not try to stop the motorcyclist. Do not open your door or otherwise put your vehicle into the lane in front of the motorcyclist. Let law enforcement handle any traffic violations. You will only put yourself and others in danger if you attempt to stop a lane splitting motorcyclist. If you’re involved in an accident, speak to a Houston motorcycle accident attorney today.
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