Motorcycles and Lane Splitting
Texas has no laws on the books that address lane-splitting for motorcyclists. Nevertheless, many people wonder what lane-splitting is all about. Further, because some motorcyclists take it upon themselves to adopt this practice, it is a good idea to know a bit more about lane splitting.
Lane Splitting Defined
Lane splitting refers to when a motorcyclist leaves his or her lane – riding over the painted dashes on the road – to travel between traffic that is moving in the same direction at a slow speed (or that is stopped). This practice allows experienced motorcyclists to shorten their travel time, but this maneuver's legality depends upon the state in question. California was the first state to officially allow lane splitting, which went into effect in 2016.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?
As mentioned, Texas has not specifically legalized lane splitting – which means you can be ticketed for passing illegally. This is not, however, for lack of trying, including the following attempts:
In 2015, two bills were filed in Texas that proposed legal lane splitting on designated roads with traffic moving at 20 mph or less, but neither bill cleared the transportation committees.
Texas is one of seven states that has formally considered recognizing lane splitting.
In May of 2019, lane-filtering legislation went into effect that allows motorcycles to move forward to the front of traffic when stopped at intersections.
Lane Splitting: The Advantages
Proponents of lane splitting maintain that lane splitting can significantly reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities caused by rear-end accidents. The fact is that motorcyclists do not have safety cages and airbags to buffer the impact of accidents (the way motorists in cars and other passenger vehicles do), which leaves them extremely vulnerable to serious injuries in rear-end accidents (even in slow-moving traffic). Another point that it is vital to take into consideration, however, is that motorcycles are more difficult to see in the first place. When they are weaving in and out of lanes, seeing motorcycles is much more difficult. When best practices are consistently employed (including strict speed limitations), lane splitting can help keep motorcycles out of congested traffic and lessen their travel time. Whether lane splitting is ultimately more dangerous than it is worth remains to be determined.
Riding Two Abreast
It is legal for two motorcycles to travel together in the same lane when traveling in the same direction in the State of Texas. This is known as traveling two abreast. Further, when a group of motorcycles travels together in a two-by-two formation, it is called a parade formation, which is also legal in Texas.