Like all states, Texas regulates the vehicles on its public roadways. Motorcyclists are required to follow traffic laws just like all other motorists, but are also subject to a specific set of Texas laws that apply to the operation of motorcycles.
Failure to be aware of the Texas motorcycle laws can result in significant legal penalties. Some of the more important motorcycle laws in Texas that all riders should know are discussed below.
Lane Splitting is Illegal in Texas
One of the most attractive aspects of riding motorcycles is their slight frame and maneuverability. Many motorcyclists take advantage of their vehicle’s size and maneuverability and go in between, or “split” lanes in order to move faster than the flow of traffic.
This practice, known as lane splitting is illegal in Texas.
If you engage in lane splitting and are injured in an accident, it will be difficult for you to recover compensation for your losses because lane splitting is a violation of the law. In addition, you risk receiving expensive tickets and adding points to your license. As always, we advise that you obey the Texas law regarding lane splitting to avoid injury and traffic violations.
Texas Requires Certain Riders to Wear a Helmet
Texas law requires all motorcyclist under 21 years of age to wear a helmet.
If you are over 21, Texas law requires that you wear a helmet unless you fit into one of the following exceptions:
- If you have completed a state-approved motorcycle safety course; or
- You can establish that you have an insurance plan that would cover your healthcare costs if you are involved in a motorcycle accident.
It is worth noting that the current Texas motorcycle law prohibits law enforcement from stopping a person for the sole purpose of determining whether either exception applies to them.
While Texas law permits certain motorcyclists to ride without a helmet, it is important to note that it is never advisable to do so. Studies show that helmets are ~37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and ~67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries .
Texas Requires Motorcyclists to have a Specific License
Texas requires people who wish to operate motorcycles on public roads to obtain a special license commonly referred to as a “Class M License.” In addition to meeting all of the requirements for a regular driver’s license, a Class M License requires that you take safety course approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety and then present proof of completion when going to get your license. If you have a valid motorcycle license in another state, the safety course requirement can be waived.
Motorcyclists are Required to Carry Liability Insurance
All motorcyclists are required to have compulsory liability insurance that will pay for at least $30,000 per person injured in an accident and $60,000 for multiple people injured in an accident. In addition, this insurance must cover property damage of at least $25,000.
You Cannot Transport Passengers under Five Years Old
While taking your kids, nieces, nephews, or other young family members on a motorcycle ride may seem like harmless fun, it can result in a traffic citation. Texas law prohibits passengers under five years old from riding on a motorcycle – they can, however, ride in a sidecar.
Your Handlebars Cannot be More than 15 Inches Above the Seat
Many motorcyclists use high handlebars both for comfort and to achieve a particular visual aesthetic. However, Texas law limits handlebars to 15 inches above the seat and anyone with higher handlebars risks facing a traffic citation.
Miscellaneous Texas Motorcycle Laws, or Lack Thereof
- While eye protection is not required on road, it is required for those who take their motorcycles off-road.
- No restrictions are placed on the sound produced by a motorcycle in Texas.
- You are required to use a daytime headlight unless the motorcycle was manufactured before 1975.
- There are no restrictions on the use of helmet speakers.
- You are required to have at least one rear-view mirror on your motorcycle.
- There is no restriction on the use of radar detectors for motorcyclists.
While many Texans ride their motorcycles their entire lives without any incident, there is always a risk of an accident or injury each time you take to the road.
The following statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will give you a brief look at the seriousness of motorcycle accidents throughout the United States and some of the key factors in such accidents.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, we invite you to contact our law firm for a free case review.