Most road rules apply to all drivers no matter which vehicle they operate. Motorcycle drivers, however, must follow a unique set of laws to keep themselves, other drivers and their passengers safe out on the open road.
Texas Motorcycle License
Motorcycle riders must obtain a Class M driver’s license to operate a motorcycle on a public highway in Texas. Applicants must be age 16 or older and have passed a Basic Motorcycle Operator Training Course approved by the Department of Public Safety. To qualify for the license, drivers must pass a written test covering motorcycle-specific traffic laws and a road test.
Established drivers with a Class A, B or C license may present an MSB-8 completion certificate or a completion card from a course meeting Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum standards in lieu of taking the tests.
Required Motorcycle Equipment
Texas law requires several pieces of safety, regulatory and operating equipment on all motorcycles and other motor-driven cycles, including a(n):
Helmets approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) are required gear for all motorcycle, motor scooter, and moped drivers and their passengers younger than 21 years old. A DOT sticker is applied to all helmets that adhere to the federal standards.
Riders over the age of 21 are exempt from wearing a helmet only if the motorcycle operator has completed a DOT-approved Motorcycle Operator Training Course or is covered by at least $10,000 in medical insurance.
Motorcycle passengers under the age of 5 are not permitted in the state of Texas. Additionally, operators may only transport a passenger if their vehicle is permanently equipped with a passenger seat.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is the practice of riding over painted, dashed road lines to pass between slower moving vehicles. It is most often performed by experienced riders when they are stuck in slow-moving or stopped traffic. While lane splitting is an effective way to cut a rider’s commute time, the legality of this action varies by state.
How Safe Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting advocates in Texas cite studies that show lane splitting plays a significant role in the reduction of rear-end rider fatalities. They also claim lane splitting can improve traffic congestion.
Lane splitting is expected of motorcyclists in other countries, particularly in highly urbanized areas of Europe and Asia. Riders in the U.S., however, are discouraged from lane splitting, even in areas where the practice is legal, unless traffic is nearly at a standstill.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?
Texas law currently has no mention of lane splitting, but some legislators have begun talks to change that. Since 2015, Texas legislators have introduced a few bills regarding the matter, though none have made it through the Texas Senate Transportation Committee. Lane splitting advocates are hoping to address the issue during the 2019 legislative session.
Five states – Texas, Nevada, Georgia, Washington, and Oregon – are considering formally recognizing lane splitting. In 2016, California was the first state to officially recognize the practice by signing a bill into law. The California law recommends riders engage in lane splitting only when traffic is moving slower than 30 mph.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to roadway hazards due to their exposed nature. This means they must pay extra attention to safety while on the road. Helpful safety measures include:
- Always wearing a DOT-approved helmet
- Turning on headlights to increase visibility
- Riding at a safe and responsible speed
- Avoiding the blind spots of large trucks
- Driving defensively and watching for potential hazards
Other vehicles can keep themselves and motorcyclists safe by:
- Maintaining a safe following distance
- Giving motorcyclists a full lane
- Checking blind spots for bikers
Auto Accident Attorneys in Texas
More than 55,000 car crashes occur in Harris County each year, according to recent Texas DOT data. If you’ve recently been injured on the road due to another driver’s negligence, the auto accident attorneys at The Weycer Law Firm can help. Our team’s extensive insight into the legal process can help you hold the negligent party accountable.