Many motorcyclists wonder, “Is lane splitting legal in Texas?” Under current driving laws in Texas, the practice of lane splitting by motorcycle riders is outlawed. Although no statute expressly mentions lane splitting, the Texas Transportation Code does require all motorists to remain within a single lane of travel. This effectively means that motorcyclists may not ride on road lines or in between lanes of traffic.
However, Texas has been one of several states over the past few years that has considered legislation legalizing lane splitting for motorcyclists. To date, California is the only state that has legalized lane splitting.
The law in this area has been controversial and potentially changing so we always suggest you consult the laws of the state you are riding in (and your good judgment) before attempting such a maneuver.
Recent Bills to Legalize Lane Splitting
In 2015, multiple bills were introduced by both Republican and Democratic state legislators to legalize the practice of lane splitting in Texas on certain types of public roads, where traffic was moving at 20 mph or less. However, none of these bills got out of committee session.
Another lane splitting bill was introduced again in the 2017-2018 legislative session but was expressly voted down by the state Senate’s Transportation Committee.
What Is the Difference between Lane Splitting, Lane Filtering, and Lane Sharing?
While some people may use the terms “lane splitting,” “lane filtering,” and “lane sharing” interchangeably, each term refers to a different practice by a motorcycle operator.
Lane splitting involves a motorcycle operator riding their motorcycle on the dashed lines between lanes of traffic or in between rows of motor vehicles. Lane splitting is normally practiced by motorcycle riders in stopped or slow-moving traffic in the same direction, since a motorcycle and its rider can normally squeeze in between lanes of traffic due to their smaller size.
Lane filtering, a practice recently approved in Utah, involves a motorcycle operator proceeding to the front of stopped vehicular traffic at an intersection.
Finally, lane sharing refers to two motor vehicles occupying the same lane of traffic. Under Texas law, two motorcycles may ride side-by-side in the same traffic lane. Other types of motor vehicles, such as passenger cars or trucks, may not occupy the same lane of traffic next to a motorcycle. A car or truck that wishes to pass a motorcycle must move over fully to the adjacent left lane, if legal to do so.
Arguments in Favor of Lane Splitting
Motorcycle riders and other proponents of lane splitting argue that the practice of lane splitting in Texas and other states can help reduce traffic congestion by allowing motorcycle riders to continue moving through slow or stopped traffic, rather than waiting in traffic with other motorists and taking up space. They say that permitting this practice could help reduce congestion in cities like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Advocates also argue that lane splitting can help reduce the risk of rear-end accidents in heavy traffic by allowing motorcycles to move into the space in between rows of traffic. A study by the University of California Berkeley supports this argument, finding that motorcyclists who split lanes in heavy traffic were significantly less likely to be struck from behind by other motorists and less likely to suffer head or torso injuries.
Arguments Against Lane Splitting
Safety advocates and those who oppose lane splitting say that the practice poses an unreasonable risk to motorcycle riders. They argue that lane splitting could make accidents more likely to happen, especially if a vehicle in slow-moving traffic chooses to change lanes, turn, or take an exit. They theorize that other drivers will not expect motorcyclists to ride between lanes when taking such actions. They argue that motorcycle lane splitting could result in a serious accident occurring that could cause serious injuries to motorcyclists and their passengers.
Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Ready to Help You
If you have been injured in a motorcycle lane splitting accident, contact Tate Law Offices, PC today for a free, no-obligation consultation to speak with a Texas motorcycle accident attorney. We have extensive experience helping people like you get the justice and fair compensation that they deserve. Tate Law Offices, P.C. represents clients in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and across the state of Texas. We have more than a 99% success rate with motorcycle accident claims, and we’re ready to help you. Schedule a free case evaluation with our motorcycle accident attorneys by calling us, filling out a contact form, or chatting with us live.
Tim received a business degree in finance from Southern Methodist University and a Juris Doctor (law degree) from South Texas College of Law. Over the last two decades Tim has represented victims of injuries day-in and day-out throughout the state of Texas as well as in numerous other states throughout America. Tim’s mission on every case is always to get the insurance company of the defendant to pay top dollar for his client’s case, which allows his clients to put the maximum amount of money into their pocket.