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Is Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?
June 22nd, 2022

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?

The short answer is no. Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist rides between rows or lanes of halted or slow-moving traffic heading in the same direction. Because it’s illegal, if you’re lane splitting and involved in a crash, your chances of a successful lawsuit or claim against another’s insurance are pretty slim.

Lane splitting is legal in several states, and it’s a common practice in Europe and Asia, but it’s illegal in Texas. Lane splitting motorcyclists involved in an accident would be at fault for the crash, wholly or partially. You also may be ticketed by the police officer coming to the scene.

What’s the Definition of Lane Splitting?

A motorcyclist is lane splitting when they crossed the painted lines in the road to move between and past slower-moving vehicles. Though this may save you some time, you’re riding in the blind spots of motorists who won’t expect you to be there. This combination is a recipe for an accident.

Bicycle, Automotive lighting, A motorcyclist is lane splitting when he or she crosses the painted lines in the road to move between and past slow moving vehicles .

In Texas, vehicles may only legally move within a single marked lane. A $175 fine is the typical penalty for lane splitting.

What Are the Dangers of Lane Splitting?

Tickets and fines are not the only consequences of lane splitting in Texas. The dangers of lane splitting – which can cause severe accidents – include:

  • Car doors opening unexpectedly
  • Hands or objects coming suddenly out of car windows
  • Drivers who are turning while unaware of your presence
  • Drivers quickly changing lanes without using blinkers

Event, Circle

Whether lane splitting is legal or not, every driver and motorcyclist must make sure lane changes are made safely.

What Is Negligence Law in Texas?

Your insurance claim or lawsuit would be based on your allegation the other driver was negligent and caused the accident and your injuries. You’d have the burden of proving:

  • The other driver owed you a legal duty due to your relationship (you both shared the road, and the other driver had a legal obligation to drive reasonably safely)
  • That duty was breached (they didn’t look before changing lanes)
  • That breach is the factual and legal (or proximate) cause of the crash and your injuries
  • You suffered damages (harm measured in dollars) as a result
  • The other driver must pay you damages under Texas law

Texas is a modified comparative negligence law state:

  • To have a successful insurance claim or lawsuit, you must show the other party is more at fault than you are
  • If you can’t show they’re at least 51% at fault for causing the crash, you’ll get no recovery
  • If you can establish the other driver’s more at fault, your share of blame will still be deducted from your award

If you’re breaking the law just before the accident, if your claim or lawsuit isn’t dismissed, your recovery may be reduced, or the driver may sue you for damages. Lane splitting puts you at a disadvantage and will make it easier for the insurance company to blame you because they will claim you committed negligence per se.

This occurs when a person acts negligently while breaking a law designed to protect the public. Lane splitting could be considered negligent, and it shows you placed others at risk by breaking a law meant to protect the public. If you pay a ticket, plead guilty, or are found guilty at a hearing, that fact would replace the first two elements for proving negligence.

How Might This Play Out?

You’re in a traffic jam on a street or highway. You think you can save some time, so you proceed by splitting the lane. You should go slowly and cautiously because not only are you breaking the law, and arguably negligently by doing so, you’re putting your life and health at risk.

You’re riding on a very narrow path through other drivers’ blind spots. If a vehicle switches lanes, you have practically no room to steer out of a crash. You’ll hit the vehicle’s side or back if you can’t stop in time. The faster you go, the less time you have to react and less space to bring your bike to a stop.

If you hit the back, you have two strikes against you as far as fault is concerned – you’re illegally lane splitting, and you rear-ended the other vehicle. If you’re side-swiped, you might argue the driver didn’t look to see if it was safe to switch lanes. Even if they didn’t, their insurance company would argue you’re still more at fault because you were at the time and place of the crash because you violated the law.

The fact you were lane splitting wouldn’t automatically end your case. If there’s evidence the other driver was, despite this, more negligent than you were, you might obtain compensation for your injuries.

Can a Schechter, Shaffer & Harris LLP Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help Me Win My Case?

Time is of the essence after a motorcycle accident. We’re here when you need an experienced injury lawyer in Houston, TX, to provide you and your family with the strong and compassionate legal help you need. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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