Does it bother you when motorcycles drive between lanes of traffic? It should. It’s against the law. But two bills before the Texas Legislature would make such “lane-splitting” legal.
Both proposed Texas motorcycle laws would allow motorcycles to go between two lanes of traffic going the same direction, provided such traffic is moving 20 miles per hour or slower.
The only state which currently allows legal lane-splitting is California, which has no limits on when or where it occurs or how fast traffic is moving. But even in California, law officers advise riders not to ride between lanes unless traffic is going 30 miles per hour or less, as this increases the likelihood of a motorcycle accident.
The two Texas lane-splitting bills have differences. The bill by Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr., D-Palmview, would require lane-splitting motorcyclists to wear a helmet. The bill by Sen. Kirk Watson, D- Austin, would not require a helmet but would limit lane-splitting to designated roads.
Since Texas’ helmet law was repealed in 1997, helmets haven’t been required of Texas motorcyclists who are over 21 and have insurance or have attended a motorcycle safety class. Motorcycle fatalities then rose 25%.
Clearly, motorcycle safety already is more problematic than the safety of persons in larger vehicles. Many drivers of larger vehicles simply don’t notice motorcycles — until it’s too late.
Changing Texas motorcycle laws might help motorcyclists beat some immediate traffic congestion. But in the long run, that also might lead to even more fatalities.