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What Is Lane-Splitting On A Motorcycle?

Posted on 06/06/22

Operating a motorcycle can be fun, but it can also present challenges. One of those challenges is traffic. In some states around the country, laws allow motorcyclists to lane split. This practice is controversial and not currently allowed in Texas. Here, we want to more thoroughly define motorcycle lane splitting and examine whether or not there are any discussions of making this practice legal in the Lone Star State.

Understanding Lane Splitting

You have probably seen motorcycles practicing lane-splitting before. This occurs when a motorcyclist travels down a center dotted line between two lanes of traffic heading in the same direction. In other words, the motorcyclist splits the two lanes of traffic going in the same direction by creating their own made-up lane right in the middle. 

Usually, you will see motorcyclists practice lane splitting if traffic is moving slowly or is relatively congested. Sometimes, motorcyclists will split lanes when traffic is deadlocked. Typically, motorcyclists say that they will practice lane splitting in order to avoid the congestion, as congestion can indeed be dangerous for a motorcyclist.

Lane Splitting is Not Legal in Texas

Currently, lane splitting is not legal for motorcyclists in Texas. However, there has been significant chatter throughout the US in multiple states about making this practice legal, and Arizona was the latest state to legalize this practice in 2022.

When we examine Texas law, we see that all drivers are required to operate completely within a single lane and not in between two lanes. However, as recently as 2019, we have seen that lane splitting bills have been introduced in the state Senate, but they have not been passed or handed off to the House.

The Safety Argument for Lane Splitting

California was the first state to legalize lane splitting, and this practice is also legal in Utah, Montana, and Arizona. If we examine studies by UC Berkeley, Safe Transportation Research & Education Center (SafeTrec), we can see that motorcyclists are less likely to be rear-ended in heavy traffic if they are allowed to practice lane splitting to get out of the congested traffic.

The reality is that motorcyclists are incredibly vulnerable on the roadway, particularly when it comes to accidents involving other vehicles. Most people think of rear-end accidents as being relatively minor, but that is certainly not the case for motorcyclists. Anytime a motorcyclist is involved in a collision with a heavier vehicle, they are likely to sustain significant injuries as a result of the impact with the vehicle and a secondary impact with the ground. If you have been injured in such an accident, reach out to the Laredo accident lawyers at Nevarez Law Group

However, because lane splitting is not legal in Texas, motorcyclists absolutely should not travel down the center lines of traffic in between two lanes. The reality is that, because other drivers do not expect this practice to occur, this practice is dangerous. This type of driving behavior will catch motorists in Texas off guard. Drivers and other vehicles could change lanes into an oncoming lane-splitting motorcyclist, or lane-splitting could scare drivers on the roadway and cause them to react and crash into other vehicles around them.

Additionally, because this type of practice is illegal under state law, lane-splitting motorcyclists will very likely be stopped by law enforcement and issued a citation for reckless driving.