Is lane splitting legal in Texas? The quick answer is NO.
However, in certain states, motorcycle riders are allowed to navigate traffic using this driving technique. Lane splitting happens when motorbike riders purposefully drive in between gaps of passenger vehicles when traffic is heavy.
As a motorcyclist in the Lone Star State, you may be tempted to perform this maneuvering technique to beat heavy traffic and get to your destination faster. However, refrain from doing so just because you feel impatient on the highways and are eager to save time.
Instead, take proper caution and abide by the law to stay safe on the road because you want to avoid accidents. If you are a visitor in Texas, remember that ignorance of the law is not an excuse. So, if you are wondering about lane splitting and want to find out more about it, continue reading this article.
Description of Lane Splitting
This motorbike driving method is dangerous for motorcycle riders and other vehicle drivers. Weaving in and out of lanes like a snake is an awful driving method that shows a lack of road courtesy. Moreover, a terrible collision will certainly occur if a vehicle swiftly moves and changes its lane while a biker is in the midst of lane splitting.
Besides, if someone were to open their vehicle door while traffic is at a standstill, a motorbike rider will collide with the door, causing damage to the vehicle, bike, and injury to both parties. Moreover, if the motorbike rider is moving at a higher speed or has failed to wear the right protective gear, the biker’s injuries can be severe.
For the above-mentioned reasons, engaging in this driving technique is not permitted in Texas. You are doing an illegal activity if you conduct lane splitting and actively switch lanes even in slow-moving traffic. So, stay safe on the road, and do not be reckless if you are a licensed motorcycle driver.
Stipulations in Texas Laws Regarding Lane Splitting
That being said, lane splitting is only considered illegal since you cannot find any specific laws that permit or allow motorbike riders to move between automobiles that are within their lanes. The Texas Transportation Code § 545.060 stipulates that all road users must remain within a single lane. In essence, this specific line in the rule book makes lane splitting illegal.
This specific traffic regulation requires all vehicles (including motorbikes) to stay in the single marked lane they are on while traversing the roads. And any vehicle can only vacate the current lane and shift to a new one when the road is already clear and safe from traffic. However, they do not consider lane splitting safe because the bike driver maneuvers the motorcycle very close to other moving vehicles, and a small car sandwiched in between larger vehicles can spell a disaster.
As a result, there is a higher risk of collision. Thus, Texas public officials consider this behavior of suddenly changing lanes unsafe. This is the precise rationale why lane splitting is illegal under Texas Laws.
Places Where Lane Splitting is Legal
Since this is deemed dangerous in Texas, you may be wondering where lane splitting is allowed. This driving technique is only legal in the State of California as a way to diffuse traffic congestion. There are still many motorcyclists that utilize this lane splitting approach while driving. But in reality, it is illegal for motorbike riders to traverse or squeeze in between gaps of passenger vehicles.
Since no law has made this technique officially legal in Texas, it remains illegal to this day. If you get caught doing it, prepare to suffer the legal repercussions because you put yourself and other people in danger. Law officials find this driving technique irresponsible and unsafe since a smaller motorcycle with a vulnerable driver has to squeeze between larger vehicles while lane splitting is in progress.
Remember, motorcycle riders are always in a precarious position. If an accident happens, their body will feel the full impact of the force, resulting in graver injuries. This is not like being in a car, where the metal and other materials feel the impact. Hence, a simple fracture in a car accident can be a near-fatal accident when a motorbike is involved. On top of that, lane splitting makes it so much easier for a rider to be involved in an accident.
Penalties For Engaging in Lane Splitting in TX
Sadly, they still catch most motorbike drivers in Texas doing this illegal behavior from time to time. When traffic is bad, many motorcyclists will skip the long line of vehicles to get ahead. This lack of patience is not surprising in this modern world where people have diminished attention spans.
However, because many motorcyclists are doing it does not make it right. If you get caught lane splitting, you will face a hefty $175 fine in Texas. For repeated offenses, you may eventually face the revocation of your driver’s license. Remember, driving is not a right but a privilege. If you commit far too many infarctions, you can lose the privilege.
Dangers Riders Potentially Face When Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is hazardous. It puts the driver, other people on the road, and property at stake. Remember, if a car were to suddenly shift lanes without warning because it did not notice a lane splitting motorbike, this could result in a grave accident. On top of that, if the bike rider does not have protective gear, the severity of the injuries can be far-reaching.
Suppose you are injured in an accident while lane splitting, the other vehicle’s driver could still be liable for your injuries. For instance, if a car abruptly changes lanes without using a signal light while you are lane splitting, they are liable if they collide with you. Therefore, they face responsibility for injuring you, even if you are lane splitting, and it is illegal.
However, you will still face penalties yourself for breaking Texas laws. After all, lane splitting is not permitted. But bear in mind, your offense does not lessen the other driver’s accountability. The other party will still be liable for negligence and suddenly switching lanes without examining the immediate surroundings.
The Concept of Modified Comparative Fault in Texas
Should you get into an accident while you’re in the midst of engaging in lane splitting in Texas, you must understand the concept of liability. If you feel you deserve payment for the many injuries, suffering, and property damage you sustained, you carry the burden of proving that the other party caused your accident.
Typically, if you proceed to file a claim for insurance coverage, the assigned adjuster to your case will first carry out a thorough independent investigation. This determines who is truly responsible for the collision. If you happen to be dead set on pushing through with a motorbike accident and personal injury lawsuit in Texas, you must be ready to show concrete evidence that supports your claims in court. Your exhibits must establish that the other party is at-fault and negligent in driving.
Because lane splitting is illegal and considered hazardous, your compensation is also not guaranteed and put at risk because the burden of proof lies with you. There is a strong probability that the insurance company will not grant you coverage and strongly deny any compensation. The adjuster will pinpoint that the accident is your fault to begin with because you are engaged in nefarious habits and illegal activity. Hence, your award may be reduced due to the adjusted comparative fault regulations and rules in Texas.
If the judge deems you are partly liable for causing the traffic accident because of lane splitting, the judge will most likely give a percentage or portion of fault to you. As a result, your final compensation will be reduced based on the percent of liability that the court believes you carry.
To illustrate, if you are in an accident, the court may give a verdict of 25% being your fault because the other party failed to see you lane splitting. So, if you ask for $30,000 as payment for your injuries and property damages, you can only receive 75% of that, which is around $22,500. If the court declares that your fault is above 50%, there is a big chance that you will not to get any compensatory rewards.
Thus, if you were injured due to lane splitting and the error of another driver, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney. A legal practitioner can help you iron out the details and provide evidence to make sure your fault is minimized.
Stay Safe on the Road at All Times
As a motorcycle rider, you should stay proactive in protecting yourself to avoid accidents and extensive injuries. You are more vulnerable to injuries because of the nature of your vehicle. You will always lose out against larger vehicles, even if it is your right of way.
Upon impact, your body will bear the brunt of the force. You can hurl off your motorcycle and land on pavement or other objects. Thus, be vigilant about protecting yourself, and be a responsible rider because you will not want to inconvenience other people with whom you share the road. Check out these tips to help you stay safe cruising on your bike:
Be Aware of the Laws
It is common for motorbike riders to navigate around blocks of traffic using the method called lane splitting. This is illegal in Texas so refrain from the urge to drive in between cars on the road. Do not sneak or weave in and out of gaps that separate vehicles. You put yourself in the path of collision with this reckless behavior.
Besides, even if there is severe gridlock, you must stay in your lane because it is what the law dictates. Always do your part as a responsible citizen and follow the letter of the law. Despite efforts to legalize the lane splitting technique in Texas, it is still illegal. Lane splitters put riders at risk of serious injury and even death. The same warning applies to all road signs like:
- Speed limits
- Yield signs
- Stop signs
- Other warnings
Wear Protective Gear at All Times
It is in your best interest to ride with full gear at all times. The right helmet, eyewear, Kevlar vest, steel toe boots, and gloves can minimize a potentially serious injury. According to the Texas Helmet Law, riders under twenty-one years old must wear helmets at all times. However, those who are over twenty-one can opt not to wear a helmet if they comply with one of these two requirements:
- The bike rider managed to complete a state-approved motorcycle operator training program.
- The bike rider possesses full medical insurance coverage that accommodates motorcycle accident injuries.
Remember, state police can stop any motorbike rider who is cruising the roads without a helmet to check if the person is compliant with state laws.
Presence of Mind is Key
When you are riding, keep your full attention on the road. Since you are more vulnerable on a motorcycle, you must be more vigilant to avoid distractions. Thus, you should not do the following:
- Text when driving as this takes your eyes off the roads
- Drive under the influence as this impacts your reflexes
- Operate your bike when you are emotional as it impedes judgment
- Eat or drink when driving because these are distractions
Consider Hiring an Attorney in Motorcycle Accident
Bear in mind, lane splitting happens in Texas and is common practice for some bikers, but doing it is dangerous. If you get into an accident while lane splitting, you need an advocate to tell your side of the story. Having an attorney as your ally can help you recover part of the compensation you need so you can recover and get on with your life.
The right law firm will take time to listen to your version of the story. After which, they will explain your legal options. Working with professionals guarantees that you have a compelling case defending you against any liability. You have a better chance of things turning in your favor if you work with a legal professional.
Thus, when you are embroiled in a motorcycle accident, especially one that is lane splitting, you must give your personal injury lawyer a call right away. This will allow you to discuss your options and prepare a solid case. Consulting a lawyer is the only way you can make sure you get compensated for damages and sufferings.
If you need advice, call us right away at Barrus Injury Lawyers. We are ready to assist you anytime. So fill out this contact form, and let’s schedule your initial consultation right away.