Motorcycle riding can be a fun and exciting experience, but it can also be extremely dangerous, especially when motorcyclists fail to abide by road safety laws. One common motorcycle driving practice many riders often participate in is lane splitting.
Drivers in Texas may have a lot of questions surrounding lane splitting. Is motorcycle lane splitting safe? Is lane splitting legal in Texas? Can I sue for a lane-splitting accident? It’s important for Texas drivers to understand the rules and regulations surrounding motorcycle lane splitting, especially in the unfortunate case of an accident.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motor vehicle accident that occurred as a result of dangerous lane splitting, San Antonio motorcycle accident lawyers at Janicek Law are here to help. Call us at (210) 366-4949 and schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.
What is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is the practice of driving between two lanes rather than driving within the marked lanes of the road. Many motorcyclists split lanes in areas with traffic congestion to pass the moving vehicles in front of them. While this may be convenient, Texas lane-splitting laws prohibit anyone from driving between lanes of traffic, even when moving in the same direction.
Lane Splitting vs. Lane Filtering vs. Lane Sharing
There are a couple of different terms associated with driving between lanes, but each of them means different things. Lane splitting occurs when motorcycle riders drive between two lanes of cars that are moving in the same direction, usually during traffic jams. Lane filtering, however, occurs when motorists drive between two lanes of stopped cars to reach the front of the pack. This usually occurs at red lights and other intersections. Lane sharing is when two motorcyclists ride next to each other in the same lane.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?
According to Texas Transportation Code Sec. 545.060, motor vehicle operators must drive within a single lane unless they are safely moving from one lane to another. The Texas legislature also states that motorcycle riders must abide by the same safety regulations as other motor vehicles, so while nothing in Texas law explicitly mentions lane splitting, if a car can’t legally do it, a motorcycle can’t do it either. If someone is caught lane splitting, filtering, or sharing, while driving in the state of Texas, they may face a traffic violation as well as legal trouble.
Which States Legalize Lane Splitting?
For years, California was the only state to legalize lane splitting of any kind. In May of 2019, however, Utah passed legislation enabling lane filtering for motorcyclists, which is just short of full lane splitting. While the law permits lane filtering, it only permits motorcyclists to engage in lane filtering under certain conditions. These conditions involve the speed limit of the motorway, the speed of the motorcycle, and the number of lanes the motorway has.
It’s important for anyone driving in California or Utah to know the lane-splitting laws to best protect themselves and others on the road. Since California is the only state to make lane-splitting legal, the California highway patrol has a list of lane-splitting safety tips and reminders to help keep motorcycles and other vehicles safe.
Pros and Cons of Lane Splitting
Lane splitting can be a confusing and complex subject and can even seem to be a complete disregard for motorcycle safety. There are, however, some benefits to lane splitting, and while it is against the law in many places, proponents of lane splitting argue that it should be legal in states across the country. Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of lane splitting and why people are for and against the practice.
One of the pros of motorcycle lane splitting is that it prevents motorcycles from being stuck between large cars in traffic. Slow-moving traffic increases the likelihood of rear-end accidents, and when those accidents involve a car or truck rear-ending a motorcycle rider, the damages can be severe and even life-altering.
Another benefit to lane splitting is that it can help a motorcycle avoid a collision in the event of an unsafe lane change. If a car starts to change lanes and doesn’t see a motorcyclist in their blind spot, the only way the motorcycle can avoid the collision is to move between the designated lanes until they can safely drive in the lanes again.
Additionally, practices like lane sharing save room on the road for other drivers. Motorcycles are small enough to safely ride alongside one another in a single lane, so many people don’t believe it should be illegal. It’s also such a common practice that many motorcycle riders get away with it without facing repercussions.
Motorcycles split lanes for a variety of reasons, but lane splitting can involve serious risks. Those against lane splitting argue that it’s dangerous and can increase the likelihood of a collision, putting the life and wellness of motorcyclists and other drivers at risk.
Additionally, it’s an illegal practice in states across the country, including Texas. In order for lane splitting in Texas to be legal, the Texas legislature must pass a law to legalize lane splitting. Until then, anyone lane splitting while driving in Texas can be pulled over by a police officer or highway patrolman and may face reckless driving fines or even jail time.
Can I Sue if I Got Into an Accident With a Motorcyclist Who Was Lane Splitting?
The best way to avoid legal trouble is to behave in a safe and responsible manner, especially when operating a moving vehicle. Sometimes, however, an accident occurs as a result of someone else’s negligence, and a lane-splitting accident is no exception. If an accident occurs as a result of motorcycle lane splitting, lane sharing, or some other form of illegal passing, the motorcyclist may be liable for any damages caused by the lane split.
Motorcycle Accident Damages
Accidents can be caused when lane splitting motorcyclists collide with another car. Whether or not the motorcyclist was at fault, they may cause damage to the other vehicle or injure the other driver. The person at fault would be financially responsible for damages like personal injury or property damage.
In order to recover damages, however, it’s important that the motorcyclist is found to have caused the accident. If someone is charged with violating lane splitting laws in Texas, their traffic violation may help prove their liability in court.
Call San Antonio Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Janicek Law Today
Just like car rides, motorcycle rides can be exhilarating and even therapeutic for some people. And just like other drivers, motorcycle drivers must act responsibly around other moving vehicles. Many motorcycles across the U.S. share the same lane and drive between lanes of stopped traffic every day. But just because many people do it doesn’t mean it’s safe or legal.
If you or a family member was in an accident involving lane splitting in Texas, call an experienced San Antonio personal injury lawyer at Janicek Law. We’ve been serving clients in Texas for over 25 years and have experience trying a wide variety of cases, including motorcycle accidents. Call (210) 366-4949 today for a free consultation on your case.