Lane Splitting – the practice of going between cars moving slowly or at a standstill while riding a motorcycle – has been a common technique used by motorcyclists for years. Motorcycle rider advocates in Texas cite studies that show that lane splitting contributes to a significant reduction of rear-end rider fatalities. They also say that it can reduce rider fatalities, improve rider safety, and reduce traffic congestion.
But what does Texas law say about lane splitting?
Well, not much – at least not yet.
There are no statements made about lane splitting in Texas law, but some Texas legislators are talking about changing that. Lane splitting bills have been introduced in the Texas Senate this session, but it isn’t the first time.
According to Houston Chronicle, two separate bills were filed on both sides of the Texas legislature in 2015. Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr., D-Palmview, and Texas state Senator Kirk Watson, D- Austin each filed lane-splitting bills on designated roads where traffic is moving at 20 mph or less.
Neither bill made it past transportation committees as the Texas legislative session closed in 2015. However, motorcycle lane splitting advocates who looked forward to the 2017 Texas legislative session will have to wait until 2019. A bill was filed in the Texas Senate Transportation Committee again by Kirk Watson, a Democrat from Austin. It was not voted on by the Transportation Committee. SB 288 died in the Texas Senate Transportation Committee.
Until then, riders will need to be aware of how Texas law treats lane splitting to avoid breaking the law.
Is Lane Splitting Legal?
If you split lanes in Texas, a police officer can technically pull you over and issue a citation. According to current Texas law, a vehicle must use a defined lane to pass another vehicle, and no exceptions are made for motorcycles.
The Importance of Addressing Lane Splitting Laws
The lack of specific laws related to lane splitting make it difficult for law enforcement, motorcyclists and everyday motorists to know how to approach lane splitting. The lack of clarity means that everyone could benefit from laws recognizing and regulating lane splitting. Law enforcement and motorists can get valuable information and instructions on the practice, while motorcyclists can make sure they are not breaking the law when they ride.
Motorcycle accidents are very serious and can have life threatening injuries for victims. Negligent motor vehicle operators that don’t check their mirrors before changing lanes or fail to control their speed can easily swipe a motorcycle off the road, leaving the rider injured in a hospital or sometimes worse. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident because of a careless driver, contact Reyes Browne Reilley today to speak with a legal assistant about your personal injury claim.