The concept of lane splitting is simple: It is a tactic that motorcyclists use to pass stopped or jammed traffic.
Motorcyclists and other motorists tend to feel passionately about this practice (also known as white-lining and riding the stripe) one way or the other. No matter how you feel about riding the stripe, it is NOT legal in Texas.
If you were injured in an accident because someone else was lane splitting or engaging in another type of dangerous behavior on the roadways, you deserve compensation for your damages. A Texas motorcycle accident lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.
The Arguments in Favor of Lane Splitting
Many motorcycle riders believe that lane splitting is not only safe but that it makes good sense as well. They argue that even when there may not be enough room for a car to move forward when a two-lane interstate comes to a stop, a motorcycle can easily fit between the cars in both lanes.
Proponents argue that this is safe because the cars aren’t moving anyway, and because it helps to reduce road congestion. You don’t have a bunch of bikes sitting in traffic and taking up space.
The Risks of Lane Splitting
Lane splitting may sound like it makes sense when done with care. However, this practice also poses a variety of risks to motorcycle riders and other motorists on the road.
One of the most noted risks is that other motorists might not expect it or notice a motorcycle coming up on them between lanes. This could lead to a vehicle turning in front of a motorcycle rider or side-swiping them. If traffic is at a full stop, this practice could even lead to a so-called “dooring” accident. Dooring occurs when a driver opens their door into the path of an oncoming rider.
Depending on how fast the rider is going, splitting lanes can also make it more difficult for motorcyclists to avoid collisions.
How Does Texas Law Treat Lane Splitting?
The practice of lane splitting is not specifically allowed under Texas law. In fact, only one state has made it legal, and that’s California. However, Texas law does not specifically call out this practice as illegal, either.
Nevertheless, according to Texas Transportation Code § 545.060, motorists must remain within a single lane unless they are making a legal lane change. This makes lane splitting
It’s technically considered illegal passing in Texas.
The police could pull you over and give you a ticket for failing to maintain your lane. If you are riding very quickly or dangerously, reckless driving charges could also factor in.
If you are ticketed under this section of the Transportation Code, you face a fine of $175. If you caused or contributed to an accident while lane splitting, you could be considered negligent. That could make you liable for any damages that result.
Even worse, if someone else caused you to have a motorcycle accident while you were lane splitting, you could lose some or all of the compensation to which you would otherwise have been entitled.
Will Texas Make Lane Splitting Legal?
Texas did attempt to make
it this practice legal in 2016. Senate Bill 288 was produced, and, had it passed, lane-splitting would have become legal in traffic going under 20 mph. This law would also have specified that bikers could go only 5 mph faster than the traffic around them. However, that bill never got out of committee and the Senate never voted on it.
Legislators may revisit the issue in an upcoming session. However, at this time, lane-splitting remains illegal in Texas.
Contact a Texas Motorcycle Accident Lawyer If You Need Help
No matter what your perspective on lane splitting might be, it is important for riders to understand all of the motorcycle laws and to adhere to them so that if another driver causes an accident, there’s no way to say that you were at fault. You may then be able to seek compensation.
If you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle collision, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Zimmerman Law Firm. We assist injury accident victims in Waco, Austin, Killeen, Round Rock, and throughout Texas.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and case review with one of our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers in Texas.
Source: Motorcycle.com, “Lane Splitting in Texas,” accessed Nov. 30, 2017