motorcycle helmet

Texas Motorcycle Regulations: An In-Depth Analysis

As Austin inches toward warmer weather, locals turn their cheek to the sun with outdoor activities. Motorists roll the windows down, turn the music up, and bask in the pre-summer breeze that gives Austin her good name.

These spring and summer months also draw motorcycles from hibernation; motorcycle riders equate to roughly 4% of registered roadway traffic. The presence of bikes on the road prompts motorists to sit up and pay attention. Unlike their four-wheeled counterparts, motorcycle riders rarely have more than a helmet and leather chaps to protect them from road-rash or injury. Motorcycle accidents can lead to serious injury; responsible caution is necessary to ensure all motorists arrive safely.

Motorcycle laws vary from state to state; from helmet laws to insurance coverage, it’s important to know your state’s requirements. Texas, followed by Florida, has the highest number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities from year to year. ‘Share the road’ is more than a suggestion, it is mandatory.

Helmet Laws

The great state of Texas requires all motorcycle riders under the age of 20 wear a protective helmet. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 19 states and the District of Columbia also enforce helmet laws . In states where universal helmet laws apply, 89% of riders abide. It should also be noted that, “motorcycle helmets saved 1,699 lives…if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, 781 more lives would have been saved. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries for motorcycle riders (operators) and 41 percent effective for motorcycle passengers.” –NHTSA
Licensing

Any persons operating a motorcycle must possess a Class M driver’s license; this also applies to mo-peds and motor driven cycles. Applicants must be 16years of age or older, and have passed both written and road exams. Testing and licensing can be obtained through the Texas Department of Public Safety.

If you are a new rider, it is a good idea to sign up for motorcycle classes and safety courses. These programs are offered all over Austin, through several businesses and associations.

Lane Splitting

RideTexas states, “The concept of ‘lane sharing’ is not specifically addressed by existing Texas statute, so lane-splitting is neither specifically permitted, nor prohibited…However, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has decided to broadly interpret an existing statute so that lane-splitting falls under it, and is illegal.”

In sum? Share the road, but don’t share the lane.

Insurance

Texas requires all drivers and riders provide financial responsibility for any accident they cause. Lawmakers have established required minimum coverage for liability insurance as the following:

  • $60,000 bodily injury coverage total per accident
  • $25,000 property damage coverage per accident
  • $30,000 bodily injury coverage for each injured person in an accident

Motorcycle insurance can be added to any current automobile policy, check with your carrier for coverage questions and quotes.

Austin motorcycle accident attorneys, Jason and Justin McMinn, are a valuable resource for victims facing injury as a result of a motorcycle crash. If you have been a victim in a motorcycle accident, call the office of McMinn Law Firm for a free consultation.