One of the most frustrating things about driving a car in Houston is having to deal with the traffic congestion that sometimes causes massive delays.
In such cases, drivers often envy motorcycle riders who can maneuver their smaller vehicles in and out of traffic much easier.
However, what many road users do not know is that Texas lane-splitting laws have changed a lot in recent years. As such, motorcycle riders now have to exercise a lot of patience and stay in the same lane as traffic moving slowly during peak congestion hours.
At times, though, accidents do happen because of motorcycle lane splitting. In such cases, victims need to have a good lawyer by their side.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has an in-depth understanding of lane splitting laws in Texas and is ready to go to war for victims. They an also advise on what to do if you witness a motorcycle accident.
What Is Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering?
Lane splitting is when a motorcycle is ridden between two lanes of slow-moving traffic going in the same direction as the motorcycle rider. If the traffic is not moving, for example, at a red light, it is called lane filtering.
Is lane splitting safe? This is the question that has been the subject of many debates by the Texas Senate Transportation Committee over the years.
Those in support of legalizing lane splitting usually point to a recent study by the University of California Berkeley which found that lane splitting might actually be safer for motorcycle riders by reducing the risk of being rear-ended by vehicles that fail to stop.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?
It has become normal to see lane-splitting and lane-sharing motorcycles on Texas highways. However, even though it is common practice, lane-splitting motorcycles are breaking the law in Texas.
The only state in the U.S. where lane splitting is permitted is California, so unless riders are under the jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol, they are required to stay behind other vehicles even in very slow or stationary traffic.
A bill dealing with Texas lane-splitting laws was drafted in 2019. However, the Texas Senate Transportation Committee never voted on it and as such, the bill is yet to be passed.
This means all the lane-splitting motorcycles on Texas highways are in contravention of the Texas transportation code.
Risks of Both Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering
Even though there is a huge temptation for motorcycle riders to weave their way out of heavy traffic moving slowly, it carries a risk of causing a serious accident.
If a vehicle traveling in the same lane as the lane-splitting rider suddenly changes direction, an accident may occur.
While some people argue that such accidents will usually happen at very low speeds, motorcycle riders can still get seriously injured due to their lack of protection.
Also, it is possible for drivers stuck in a single lane in the middle of heavy traffic to act aggressively towards motorcycle riders who are lane splitting and avoiding the traffic jam.
Incidents of road rage can occur between the riders and the drivers who accuse them of breaking the law and cutting through traffic.
There is also very little space between slow-moving cars that are stuck in traffic. As such, lane-splitting motorcycle riders risk colliding with either of the cars or taking out their side mirrors as they ride past.
While lane splitting and lane filtering, motorcycles may also pass through a car's blind spot, which means the driver may change lanes without knowing that a motorcycle is about to pass them.
Penalties for Lane-Splitting Motorcycle Riders Should Know
According to the Texas legislature, motorcycle riders found guilty of lane splitting or lane filtering may face various citations, such as:
Following another vehicle too closely
Unsafe lane changing
The typical punishment for lane splitting in Texas is a fine of $175, which could go up to $200 depending on the particular circumstances.
Guilty riders could also face up to 30 days in jail, which makes the consequences of lane splitting quite serious.
What to Do After a Lane Splitting Accident
If a motorcycle rider is traveling on the marked lanes to avoid being stuck in traffic and causing a serious accident, victims should take the following steps:
Seek medical attention
Ask for a doctor's report and receipts of medical bills
Gather evidence, such as photos of the accident scene
Talk to witnesses
Approach a motorcycle accident lawyer
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Whenever a lane-splitting accident occurs, both parties may be partly to blame, especially considering that Texas uses a modified form of comparative negligence to handle personal injury cases.
The motorcyclists are responsible for causing the accident by breaking the law and riding between stationary or slow-moving traffic.
On the other hand, the drivers of the vehicles should have checked to see if the road was clear before switching lanes.
As such, lane-splitting accident cases can get complicated. If the injuries suffered by the victims are severe, a huge court battle may be on the cards. In such cases, victims need to have a good a motorcycle accident attorney in Houston who will:
Provide legal counsel
Investigate the causes of the accident
File a personal injury lawsuit
Represent the victims in court
Fight for maximum compensation
Possible Damages After a Lane Splitting Accident
In the aftermath of a lane-splitting motorcycle accident, the state of Texas entitles the victims to receive compensation for the following damages:
Pain and suffering
Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today
Until a new law is passed that allows lane splitting in certain circumstances, such practices will always be illegal in Texas. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also share insight on whose fault is it if a self driving car hits a pedestrian.
However, since many motorcyclists continue to disregard this law, lane-splitting accidents are likely to continue happening.
Victims of lane-splitting accidents have the right to sue other drivers and motorcyclists for the injuries and other damages they suffer.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney, such as Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help victims get the compensation they deserve. Victims should call right now and ask for a free consultation.