If you’re a motorcyclist, you may have heard of “lane splitting.” It refers to riding a motorcycle between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic. Lane splitting is common in many countries, but is it legal in Texas?
In this article, we’ll explore the laws and regulations surrounding lane splitting in Texas and provide some insights into the safety and benefits of this practice.
Lane Splitting Laws in Texas
The Current Legislation
Currently, lane splitting is not explicitly legal or illegal in Texas. This means that there is no specific law that prohibits or allows lane splitting. However, some laws and regulations can be applied to lane splitting.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, motorcyclists must follow traffic laws like other vehicles. This means they must stay within their designated lane and cannot pass other vehicles in the same lane.
Additionally, Texas Transportation Code 545.060 states that a motorcyclist cannot overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken. This could be applied to lane splitting, as the motorcycle is technically passing other vehicles in the same lane.
Lane Filtering vs. Lane Splitting
It’s important to note the difference between lane filtering and lane splitting. Lane filtering is riding a motorcycle between lanes of stopped traffic, while lane splitting is done between lanes of moving traffic.
Lane filtering is legal in Texas as long as the motorcyclist is not passing other vehicles in the same lane. This means that a motorcyclist can filter to the front of a line of stopped traffic at a red light but cannot continue to filter between lanes once the traffic starts moving.
The Safety of Lane Splitting
Studies and Statistics
There have been numerous studies and statistics on the safety of lane splitting. In 2015, the University of California Berkeley conducted a study on the safety of lane splitting in California, where it is legal. The study found that lane splitting can be done safely if the motorcyclist travels at 15 mph or less than the surrounding traffic.
Additionally, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that lane splitting can reduce the risk of a rear-end collision for motorcyclists. This is because lane splitting allows motorcyclists to move out of the way of a potential collision rather than being stuck in the middle of it.
Benefits of Lane Splitting
Aside from the potential safety benefits, lane splitting has other advantages. For one, it can help reduce traffic congestion. Motorcycles take up less space on the road than cars, so allowing them to move between lanes can help ease traffic flow.
Lane splitting can also reduce the risk of overheating for motorcycles. When stuck in traffic, motorcycles cannot move and cool down, leading to engine damage. By allowing lane splitting, motorcycles can continue to move and avoid overheating.
The Future of Lane Splitting in Texas
In 2019, a bill was introduced in the Texas legislature that would have legalized lane splitting. However, the bill did not pass and was left pending in committee.
The bill, known as HB 1106, would have allowed motorcycles to travel between lanes of traffic that are moving at a speed of 20 mph or less. It also required motorcyclists to travel no more than five mph faster than the surrounding traffic.
Public Opinion on Lane Splitting in Texas
There is a divide among the public when it comes to lane splitting. Some argue that it is a dangerous practice that puts both motorcyclists and other drivers at risk. Others believe it can be done safely and benefit motorcyclists and drivers.
In a Texas Department of Transportation survey, 60% of respondents favored legalizing lane splitting, while 40% were against it. Those in favor cited benefits such as reduced traffic congestion and increased safety for motorcyclists—those against expressed concerns about lane splitting and the potential for accidents.
Lane Splitting is Not Currently Legal in Texas
While lane splitting is illegal in Texas, it could be in the future. With proposed legislation and public opinion in favor of legalizing it, it’s important to continue the conversation and consider this practice’s potential benefits and safety implications.
In the meantime, motorcyclists need to follow Texas’s current laws and regulations and ride safely. Whether lane splitting becomes legal or not, the safety of all drivers on the road should always be a top priority.
Call a Houston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Houston for Help!
The motorcycle accident lawyers in Houston at Baumgartner Law Firm have won motorcycle crash cases for decades. Contact our experienced team for a free consultation.
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069