Lane splitting is illegal in Texas, and if caught, a motorcyclist can be fined $175 or more for riding between the lanes. Texas law states that motorcyclists, like other drivers, must drive within a single lane. As of 2021, riders in Texas are not allowed to ride between lanes or rows of slow-moving or stopped traffic that is moving in the same direction.
Bill SB-273 Aimed to Allow Motorcycle Riders to Ride or Share Lanes
SB-273, authored by former Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, was introduced in December 2018 and sent to the Transportation Committee, which never voted on the bill. It died in committee as its predecessor, SB 288, did. The proposed legislation called for permitting lane splitting or sharing on certain highways during heavy traffic.
If the bill had passed, motorcycle riders in Texas would have been able to cut through congested traffic ahead of cars and other traffic.
Lane Splitting is Legal in Only One State
There’s only one state where riders have this option, and that is California, the only state in the U.S. to permit the practice as of Jan. 1, 2017. The state’s Department of the California Highway Patrol can set guidelines about lane splitting to help ensure that motorcyclists practice safety for themselves and other motorists and their passengers. Still, there are several reasons why lane splitting, also known as “white striping,” can be dangerous.
Lane Sharing Can Make Commutes Faster But Potentially More Dangerous
Those in favor of lane splitting say it could potentially reduce the number of vehicles in slow-moving or stalled traffic. In some cases, it can also help motorcyclists avoid being rear-ended by distracted motorists in traffic jams.
Advocates also say lane splitting can shorten motorcyclists’ commutes shorter because they would spend less time in traffic. Still, there is the possibility that it could increase the chances of more motorcycle accidents on Texas’ roads. Riders share the roads with larger vehicles, which already puts them at some risk.
Some Reasons Motorcycle Accidents Happen
Motorcycles can be difficult for motorists to see. The two-wheel vehicles are smaller, so they can appear further away than they actually are, and they move faster, making it easier for motorists to miss them. Drivers of larger vehicles also violate motorcyclists’ right-of-way, also putting them at higher risk of having an accident.
Lane splitting could also increase the risk of motorcycle accident injuries and loss of life.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries Could Increase if Lane-Splitting Allowed
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle fatalities are 28 times more common than fatalities in other types of vehicles. More than 5,000 motorcyclists died in accidents in 2019.
Those who survive often suffer severe or catastrophic injuries. Common accident injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Broken, shattered, or crushed bones from the impact or ejection
- Limb amputations
- Spinal injuries and paralysis
They are also at risk of suffering burns, road rash, cuts, and scrapes. Because motorcyclists’ bodies are exposed to the elements in their environment, such as the open road, weather, and road debris, accidents prove more severe for them.
The medical bills and recovery time from a motorcycle accident can be extensive. People hurt in motorcycle accidents are also prone to dealing with property damage, low to no income if they miss time from work, and other losses if they get into an accident with a larger vehicle.
How to Minimize Your Risk of Motorcycle Injuries
If lane splitting is legalized in Texas in 2021 or after, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of injury:
- Wear a helmet and goggles or glasses to protect your head and face while riding.
- Make sure your bike’s headlamp and brake lights work.
- Wear reflective or brightly colored riding gear so that other motorists can see you.
- Check the weather report to plan for hot weather, rain, flooded roads, and other weather conditions that could make it difficult to see or navigate the roads.
- Do not assume that drivers see you, particularly if you are splitting or sharing lanes.
- Obey the rules for right-of-way, especially at four-way intersections.
- Always signal before making turns.
- Wear proper footwear.
- Take rider education courses to stay up to date on best safety practices.
You can use these tips to stay safe any time you are riding your motorcycle.
What to do if You are Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident
Your first action if you are involved in a motorcycle accident is to get medical care. After a medical professional has examined you, consider calling a lawyer who handles motorcycle accidents in Texas. You could be entitled to financial recovery for medical bills, lost pay, and damage to your motorcycle.
Evidence in a Motorcycle Case
If you were able to get evidence at the accident scene, it can help document your injuries and property damage. Such evidence includes:
- Photographs, video footage of the accident scene and vehicles involved
- The police report, medical records
- Witness statements, witness videos
- Making notes before or after the accident to keep your details about the accident clear
Make sure you keep all of this information in a file, including the contact information for the other drivers involved in the accident, witnesses, and responding law enforcement officers. You can also include your medical records, invoices, receipts, and other relevant paperwork that can document your account of your accident.
Call D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ Today
Even if your motorcycle accident is minor, it could help to have legal counsel to determine if pursuing a case for damages is the right step for you. We can explain the options that could be available in your case. We can negotiate with an insurer with the goal of settling an insurance claim on your behalf. If negotiations do not work out, we can help you file an injury lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations period, per Texas law.
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