Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?

Should lane splitting be legalized in Texas

Lane sharing or splitting, or traffic filtering, is a legal practice among motorcyclists in Europe, Asia, and even California. Most US states explicitly ban the practice, according to the American Motorcyclist Association.

While currently illegal in all states except California, many states have begun to look more closely at the practice. Particularly, as a method to reduce emissions, and more so, to combat traffic congestion in major metropolitan areas. Cities in and around Dallas-Fort Worth have had massive growth in the last decade. Infrastructure, sadly, has not been able to keep up with this growth. All options will need to be considered to curb congestion, otherwise, traffic around DFW may look even more like Los Angeles very soon.

Is lane splitting dangerous?

For years there has been debate on the subject. While some people argue the practice cannot be safely performed, others are angry just to get passed on the tollway, but some are more supportive of the idea. Supporters include the Facebook group Texas Riders for Lane Splitting, and state representatives Senator Watson and Representative Munoz who both submitted bills to legalize lane splitting in Texas.

One study out of the University of California, Berkeley looked closer at the practice of lane splitting. The study found that the practice is actually relatively safe in normal driving conditions. The study indicated that with increased speed differentials between motorcycles and cars, comes increased risks. The study, which can be read here, was conducted by the University of California, Berkeley. In the study, when travelling under 35 mph, or where a motorcyclists speed differential was less than 15 mph, the risk was comparable to normal riding. It should also be considered that the study found lane-splitters were more often riding weekdays and during rush hour, so traveling slower, and were wearing better helmets than average. Lane-splitters were also less likely to have been drinking and less likely to have had a passenger. While many riders seem to want to push the speed differential higher, a safer and perhaps more agreeable differential, would be 10 – 15 mph, based on this study. Other studies, conducted in European nations where the practice is legal, failed to identify an increased risk.

Advantages of lane splitting

If done safely, lane sharing can be advantageous for everyone. Lane splitting can reduce the amount of vehicles on the road when motorcycles pass through more quickly. This sharing of the lane frees up more space for cars to maneuver, thereby reducing congestion. So instead of getting mad at the motorcycle that just whizzed by, consider being thankful that one less vehicle is slowing everyone down. Other advantages include reductions in emissions and reduced fuel consumption from motorcycles sitting in traffic. This might be a small advantage but it is significant enough to garner notice in the study. Personally, I think when it comes to keeping our environment and air clean that every little bit counts.

Should lane splitting be legalized

I think so, but I’m a motorcyclist and every day I see opportunities to navigate safely through traffic. The perspective of a non-rider is probably a little different. I realize they may not understand the maneuverability of a motorcycle. So I understand why so many non-riders are against the idea of lane splitting. Others may misunderstand the benefits, overestimate the risks, and think motorcyclists actually slow them down.

For me, most days I disregard the majority of opportunities for lane splitting due to legal reasons alone. Other times I take advantage of these gaps, especially at low speeds. As someone conscious about keeping our environment clean, I love that I can reduce emissions, and fuel consumption, by riding on my motorcycle. The environmental aspect gives me one more reason to throw on my gear and head to work with a smile. Every morning as I glide through the hordes of cars parked on the freeway during rush hour, I graciously accept the sound of horns as a thank you. By getting out of traffic I am one less vehicle holding up the line. I know they’re thanking me one finger at a time as I pass by.

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A Web Developer by trade, find me on Github
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.

  • TheGreatViking

    This is like asking why doesn’t the US use the metric system. This isn’t a debate about whether or not its good, its about what’s wrong with Americans.

    • TheGreatViking

      P.S. its called Entitlement

      • Patrick

        I think the majority of Americans don’t understand that it’s a relatively safe practice, as the article points out. Most people in the US when they hear lane splitting, picture some squid zooming between cars at highway speeds causing near crashes behind them. If they knew that the legal use of it usually entails passing standing, or slow moving cars, at rush hour, they probably would be less up in arms. So I don’t think it’s entitlement, but ignorance.

        • TheGreatViking

          Its both, but only in the US will people become violent or angry when others are passing them unrestricted. They are very entitled.

    • Patrick

      I wish we used metric so I didn’t have to keep 2 sets of wrenches or sockets. Seriously metric is ridiculously simpler to learn vs our weird systems.

  • TheScarecrow

    Lane filtering is not explicitly illegal in Texas, it is a grey area thats enforcement is based on police discretion. See #19 on the Texas Dept. of Public Safety website: https://www.dps.texas.gov/msb/msbfaqs.htm

    • Patrick

      Sounds illegal here: ‘The main statute that makes “lane splitting” illegal is Transportation Code Section 545.060, entitled “Driving on Roadway Laned for Traffic.”
      An operator on a roadway divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic:
      shall drive as nearly practical entirely within a single lane; and
      may not move from the lane unless that movement can be made safely.’

  • Etienne Lau

    Been lane splitting in DFW since 2007. Most drivers are so engrossed in their cell phones you get ignored. I get the odd honk or yell. For the most part it is safer than sitting in traffic and waiting to be hit from behind or side swiped.

    • Patrick

      very true, I had a friend lose his sister and brother-in-law when a SUV ran over a group of 3 bikes and 5 riders sitting in traffic. The driver was passing McDonalds to the backseat at the time. The driver is currently in prison for killing them at least.

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