Texas Lane Splitting Laws
There is a long history of lane splitting laws filed, and supported by bipartisan members of the state legislatures. However for legislation to be passed recognizing lane splitting, advocates will have to look ahead to the 2021 legislative session.
Previous Attempts at Lane Splitting Legislation in Texas
No legislative bills regarding lane filtering were introduced during the 2021 legislative session.
In 2019, SB 273 addressed lane splitting – but the bill never made it out of the Senate transportation Committee of the 87th Texas Legislature.
Before that in 2017, a bill was filed in the Texas Senate Transportation Committee again by Kirk Watson, a Democrat from Austin. It was not voted on by the Transportation Committee. SB 288 died in the Texas Senate Transportation Committee. See the full record of the bill LegiScan.
In 2015, two separate bills were filed on both sides of the Texas legislature in 2015 (Houston Chronicle). Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr., D-Palmview, and Texas state Senator Kirk Watson, D- Austin each filed lane-splitting bills on designated roads where traffic is moving at 20 mph or less. Neither bill made it past transportation committees as the Texas legislative session closed in 2015.
Texas is among ten states to consider formally recognizing lane splitting. Other states include Utah, Nevada, California, Georgia, Washington, and Oregon, Hawaii, California and Montana.
Lane Splitting in Montana
Now in Montana, two wheeled motorcyclists can move beyond stopped traffic a speed of 20 mph or less. The law goes into effect on October 1, 2021.
Hawaii Permits Lane “Surfing”
In 2018, Hawaii began allowying motorcyclists to move through backed up traffic on the shoulder or on the white line. Motorcyclists may not travel over 10 mph during this mode of travel.
Lane Filtering in Utah:
In February 2019 the Utah House legislature passed through a piece of legislation that endorsed the practice of lane filtering. The legislation allows motorcyclists to proceed to the front of traffic while waiting at an intersection. After being signed by the governor, it went into effect on May 14, 2019.
- Under the legislation, motorcyclists would be able to use lane-splitting on roads with speed limits of less than 45 mph. It isn’t allowed on freeways.
- The road must have two or more adjacent lanes of traffic that travel in the same direction.
- Important: motorcyclists can only filter between stopped vehicles.
- A motorcyclist must travel at a speed limit of 15 miles per hour or less.
The practice helps motorcyclists avoid the dangers of getting rear-ended by other drivers. In Utah between 2011 and 2017 there were 1288 rear-ends by a vehicle to a motorcycle. Unlike in cars, the motorcyclist doesn’t have the protection of a headrest or a back seat.
California was the first state to officially recognize lane splitting. In August of 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law.
It permits motorcyclists to ride between lanes of traffic and for California Highway Patrol to work with motorcycle safety groups to develop guidelines for best practices. Under the safety guidelines in California, riders are recommended not to engage in lane splitting when traffic is moving faster than 30 mph.
Riders in Texas are still unable to engage in lane splitting without going against current law. It may be possible for a lane splitting motorcyclist to be issued a ticket for illegal passing. If you want lane splitting to pass, consider contacting your Texas State representatives. If you aren’t sure who they are, you can find their contact information using this tool.