Many motorcyclists make maneuvers to either avoid traffic congestion or get to their destination fast. One of these movements is lane splitting. Even though many motorcycle riders believe they have the experience to pull off these maneuvers safely, they can lead to serious accidents.
Legalizing lane splitting has been a common topic of discussion in many states, including Texas. Those interested in riding motorcycles in the state must be aware of amendments made to the State Transportation Code to ensure they're always behaving safely on the road.
This page will cover lane-splitting, its legal state in Texas, and why riders should avoid it. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also share details about a no contact motorcycle accident.
What's Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting happens when someone rides over the dashed lines in a roadway laned for traffic. The goal of this maneuver is to move between two lanes of traffic faster and pass slow-moving cars.
How does lane splitting work? Essentially, the rider will move between the spaces between the cars in the same lane and pass them.
Now, is lane splitting safe? Not really. It may be "easier" to do with clearly marked lanes. However, unless the traffic is completely stopped, it may not be safe to perform this movement. Moving a motorcycle between lanes requires a lot of skill, and the slightest mistake can lead to an accident that may result in property damage and severe physical injuries.
What Do Texas Lane-Splitting Laws Mention?
As of September 1st, 2023, both lane-splitting and lane-filtering are illegal in Texas. This amendment to the state's transportation code came in Texas State Legislative Session 88(R). It happened after the filing of House Bill 4122 back in March of 2023.
The amendment passed through several public hearings, meetings, and votes. It was finally signed in both the State House and Senate in May. The governor signed the amendment into state law on June 12th, 2023.
Currently, California is the only state that legalizes lane splitting, even though some motorcycle accidents reported to the California Highway Patrol involve lane splitting.
Are There Any Penalties for Motorcycle Lane-Splitting in Texas?
Since riders in Texas can't legally lane-split, there are a set of penalties they can get if they're found moving between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
Some common penalties include:
Fines of $170 or more
Reckless driving citations
Unsafe lane change citations
However, if the motorcycle rider ends up hitting someone because of lane splitting they may face further legal consequences. The victim of the accident could file a legal claim that could result in many legal expenses in the future.
What's the Difference Between Lane-Splitting, Filtering, and Sharing?
Most of the time, these terms are used interchangeably. However, some motorcyclists use each to refer to a specific maneuver:
Lane-splitting refers to moving the vehicle between rows of vehicles in a single lane. On the other hand, lane-filtering, as described by Utah's Department of Security, refers to moving between two lanes to the front of the traffic stopped at an intersection. What this means is that, at least according to Utah law, motorcyclists could travel to the front of the line as long as traffic is stopped.
Finally, lane-sharing happens when two motorcyclists are side-by-side on the same lane. In Texas, this is legal to do.
Besides lane-sharing, all motorcyclists should avoid lane-splitting/lane-filtering. Not following the law could lead to several consequences, including accidents.
Why Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?
Lane splitting is dangerous mostly because of how little reaction time the riders have to move their motorcycles. A small wrong movement can lead the rider directly into a car.
Even if a motorcyclist could argue that a slow lane-splitting movement could solve the problem, most riders tend to make fast maneuvers to get to the front of the lane. Not only does this expose the rider, but it also puts other vehicles and drivers around at risk.
Motorcyclists tend to be the most vulnerable drivers on the road. They're much more exposed than a car driver, meaning that hitting another vehicle at a considerable speed can lead to severe injuries, if not death.
What Should Victims Do After a Lane-Splitting Accident?
One of the worst things about lane-splitting accidents is that most of the time, the victim doesn't see them coming. Other drivers are often paying attention to the road, so they may not be able to react when a motorcycle rider is lane-splitting. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also go over some long term effects of motorcycle accidents.
Those who get injured after a lane-splitting accident should act as fast as possible and follow these steps:
Gather as much evidence as possible.
Talk to the motorcycle rider and potential witnesses.
Get medical assistance.
Talk to the insurance company/provider.
Call the police to file a report.
Contact a personal injury lawyer.
Even if it seems like the motorcycle rider didn't cause any significant damage to the victim or their vehicle, it's crucial to get an expert opinion. It may be possible to use that against the at-fault party later, which can result in better compensation.
Lane-splitting is illegal in Texas, so it's crucial to avoid doing it at any moment. Unfortunately, it's impossible to control how other drivers behave on the road, meaning that everyone is potentially exposed to lane-splitting accidents from time to time.
Getting involved in a lane-splitting accident can become overwhelming, especially if it results in severe injuries. Those who got injured because of a rider's negligence should seek financial compensation with the help of a motorcycle accident lawyer in Dallas.
At Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, there's a team of professional lawyers ready to build a strong case to ensure their client's maximum compensation. Since lane-splitting is illegal, it won't be too complicated to get compensated, as long as the victim can prove the other party performed that movement.
Building a personal injury case alone can be hard, which is why it's important to get legal help as soon as possible. The team at Schuerger Shunnarah offers free consultations to potential clients, and they can schedule one as soon as today to get more information about how they can handle their case.