Texas is considering legislation to permit lane splitting where motorcyclists could pass vehicles by driving between lanes of traffic. California is the only state that permits this, but it is a common practice in many other countries, including urbanized areas in Europe and Asia.
According to a 2015 study by the University of California Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, lane splitting can be safe. The study found:
- Lane splitting is safest if done in traffic going 50 mph or slower and if the motorcyclist is not driving more than 15 mph faster than other vehicles.
- Motorcyclists engaged in lane splitting were significantly less likely to be rear-ended by another vehicle than other riders.
How Lane Splitting Would Work Under the Proposed Legislation
One of the goals of the Texas legislation would be to help reduce congestion on Texas’ busy roads. It could also protect motorcyclists who face greater risks of getting into serious crashes on congested highways due to stop-and-go traffic, distracted drivers, and environmental conditions. The law would allow the following:
- Lane splitting would be allowed on controlled-access highways—those designed for high-speed vehicle traffic.
- The motorcyclist could only go five mph faster than other traffic, and traffic on the highway would have to be moving at twenty mph or slower.
- The motorcyclist and any passenger would be required to wear a helmet.
This legislation would legalize a practice that some motorcyclists are already doing. Public safety campaigns to educate other drivers as to the benefits of lane splitting and what is allowed could be required if lane splitting becomes legal in Texas.