Brian White | July 26, 2022 | Motorcycle Accidents
One of the most stressful parts of driving any car is waiting in stopped or sluggish traffic. If you’re riding a motorbike, you could be wondering if you can squeeze your vehicle into the gap between slower vehicles and continue your journey. This is sometimes referred to as lane splitting.
In other cases, you might be tempted to creep to the front of the line at a red light or a traffic jam. This is known as lane filtering. As of 2022, both lane splitting and lane filtering are illegal in Texas.
What Is Lane Splitting and Filtering?
Lane splitting is the act of riding a motorbike between two lanes of slower traffic traveling in the same direction. Lane filtering is riding between halted traffic, such as at a red light or in a traffic jam. Many motorcyclists support lane splitting and filtering, arguing that it keeps traffic moving. By moving ahead of traffic in cases of dense congestion, lane splitting helps riders save time.
Lane splitting may offer advantages as well as disadvantages. For instance, a University of California Berkeley research study discovered that lane splitting might be safer for motorcycle riders than conventional lane riding during instances of high traffic.
According to the study, drivers who don’t stop are more likely to hit motorcycle riders from behind.
However, lane splitting and filtering would considerably lower the probability of rear-end incidents for motorcyclists. This is because they could travel between lanes and escape stop-and-go traffic instead of being stalled in traffic, where they would be at risk of being hit from behind.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in the State of Texas?
While lane splitting is somewhat of a common practice, it is illegal in Texas.
Currently, California is the only state in the nation where lane splitting is permitted. However, as of 2019, the Texas legislature had drafted SB 273, which dealt with lane splitting. This bill was never passed by the Senate Transportation Committee of the 87th Texas Legislature.
A Democratic senator from Austin submitted a measure to the Texas Senate Transportation Committee in 2017. However, the Transportation Committee did not vote on the matter. So it never passed into law.
What Are the Penalties for Lane Splitting?
Lane-splitting motorcycle drivers in Texas risk receiving a ticket for driving on the shoulder of the road, which carries a fee.
If a motorcycle rider in Texas is involved in an accident while lane splitting, the motorcycle rider may be entirely or partially to blame. As a result, the rider might not be fully compensated for any injuries sustained.
However, the motorcyclist may not be the only one at fault if the other motorist was careless and caused the accident by speeding, passing too closely, or operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Due to the fact that Texas is a modified comparative negligence jurisdiction, the rider might still be eligible for reimbursement for injuries, although at a lower amount, depending on the circumstances.
The Risks of Lane Splitting and Filtering
Lane splitting and filtering may be risky even when it is permitted. Drivers might be unaware of motorcyclists and make lane shifts in front of lane-splitting motorcycles, resulting in a severe collision. Motorcycle riders’ lack of protection might result in a serious accident, even if moving at speeds of around 20 mph.
For instance, the space between cars is limited. There isn’t much room for a motorcycle to pass between two automobiles. Due to their proximity, riders risk colliding with a car if they make a mistake.
In a similar vein, cars are less likely to see motorcycle riders. It is risky for a vehicle to change lanes while a motorbike rider is lane-splitting since the motorcycle may end up in the car’s blind spot.
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