While motorcycle riders must follow the same traffic laws as other drivers, some laws are unique to them — including those regarding lane splitting. But is lane splitting legal in Texas?
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting involves driving between two lanes. This often happens when traffic is stopped or moving slowly and the motorcycle rider wants to get ahead more quickly. You may be in a traffic jam and notice motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic between stopped vehicles. This can cause car drivers to crash into a motorcyclist.
Texas Motorcycle Lane Splitting Laws
Lane splitting is not legal in Texas. All vehicles must stay in a single traffic lane, and they may only move out of a lane to change lanes or turn when it is safe.
However, some lawmakers are working to make it legal in Texas. Senate Bill 288 is now being considered by the state senate. This would allow lane splitting in certain circumstances. Under SB 288, motorcyclists on limited or controlled-access highways would be allowed to lane split when traveling in the same direction as other traffic on congested roadways if:
- They do not travel at a speed greater than five miles per hour higher than surrounding traffic; and
- Traffic is traveling at speeds of 20 mph or less.
Senate Bill 273 would also allow lane splitting during heavy traffic as well. It was introduced in December 2018 and sent to the Transportation Committee for review and consideration. If SB-273 passes, motorcyclists would be able to lane split through congested areas ahead of stopped and slow traffic.
Lane splitting would allow motorcyclists to commute more quickly, and possibly prevent motorcyclists from being rear-ended by distracted car and truck drivers in traffic jams. However, it can also be a dangerous practice. This is because motorcycles can be difficult to see, especially if cars don’t expect them to be moving in and out of traffic.
What Are the Penalties for Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is a traffic offense, for which a driver can be ticketed. If found guilty, a motorcycle rider may be subject to a $175 fine. In addition, a rider may receive an additional ticket for other traffic violations, such as following too closely, unsafe lane changes, or reckless driving. Those traffic violations would result in additional fines.
Who Is at Fault in a Lane Splitting Accident?
When an accident is caused by lane splitting, the motorcycle rider is often found to be at fault. Other vehicle drivers often do not anticipate that a motorcycle will be passing between lanes during traffic. So negligence is often pinned on the motorcyclist.
However, a car or truck driver may also be partially at fault and contribute to the accident. For example if a vehicle driver was using a cell phone, eating, or otherwise not paying attention to the roadway, they may be held liable for distracted driving. Also, if a driver was weaving in and out of traffic, they may be held liable for reckless driving.
To avoid liability for an accident, a motorcycle rider must show that:
- They were operating the motorcycle carefully.
- No traffic violations occurred around cars.
- They were an experienced and licensed motorcycle rider.
- They have taken a motorcycle safety course.
- The other driver was negligent or performed a traffic violation that was more dangerous than lane splitting.
Speak to a San Antonio Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident or have questions about lane splitting in Texas, contact Brylak Law today. We can help you review your case and understand your options for recovering damages.