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Texas Motorcycle Laws, Safety Requirements, and Safety Tips

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Motorcyclists must follow Texas’s traffic laws just like all other motorists. Texas also has specific laws that apply directly to motorcyclists. The following highlights some Texas laws for motorcyclists and provides safety tips on how to avoid being injured while on a motorcycle.

Remember Always to Obey the Law

Following all Texas motorcycle laws and regulations is the best way to avoid a motorcycle accident. Never speed or disregard stop signs, always yield the right of way when appropriate, and comply with all motorcycle-specific regulations. These laws include having the proper license, wearing helmets, never splitting lanes, and not weaving in and out of stopped traffic.

If you violate a motorcycle law or regulation and get into an accident, it makes your ability to recover compensation for your injuries very difficult. You may have a hard time recovering compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, or other losses.

Motorcyclists in Texas Must Have a Special License

People operating motorcycles on public roads in Texas must obtain a special license called a Class M License. Getting a Class M License requires taking and passing a safety course approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Professional Motorcycle Training Is Critical

Riding a motorcycle is very different than driving a car. It comes with potential dangers that car drivers and passengers do not face. Just like when you get your driver’s license, you must get professional training and take a road test. Driving a motorcycle is no different. You should get professional training before getting behind the handlebars of a motorcycle to help you learn skills and develop habits that can help keep you safe while on a motorcycle.

Never Drive a Motorcycle After Drinking

Cars, motorcycles, and drinking are a recipe for disaster. It is illegal to ride a motorcycle after having too much to drink. Alcohol affects your judgment, reaction time, balance, and vision. Not only is driving a motorcycle after having too much to drink unspeakably dangerous and illegal, but being a passenger on a motorcycle—even if the passenger has had nothing to drink—with a drunk driver is dangerous. 

Just like when you get into a car with friends for a night out, pick a designated motorcycle driver who will not drink and have a backup for an alternative ride home if circumstances change. Before getting on a motorcycle, ensure your driver is not impaired by alcohol or another illegal substance. Do not get on the motorcycle and find another way to your destination if they are. Call a family member or friend, or use a ride-sharing company.

Motorcyclists Cannot Split Lanes in Texas

Motorcyclists like to take advantage of the motorcycle’s maneuverability and size and drive in between or “split” lanes to move faster than the flow of traffic. This is known as lane splitting, and Section 545.060 of the Texas Transportation Code prohibits lane splitting.

If you violate this law by lane splitting and are injured in a wreck because you are hit by another motor vehicle, recovering compensation for your damages will be very difficult. Also, violating this law puts you at risk of receiving costly citations. Please obey the Texas laws regarding lane splitting to avoid serious injuries and traffic violations.

Certain Riders Must Wear a Helmet

All motorcyclists under 21 years of age in Texas must wear a helmet.

In Texas, some motorcyclists are permitted to ride without a helmet. However, it is never wise to get on a motorcycle without a helmet, whether it is against the law or not. Wearing a helmet on a motorcycle significantly decreases the chances you will suffer serious brain injuries or death. According to studies, helmets are approximately 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing serious brain injuries.

Texas Requires Motorcyclists to Carry Liability Insurance

All motorcyclists in Texas must have minimum liability insurance of at least $30,000 per person injured in a collision, $60,000 per collision, and $25,000 for property damage per wreck.

Passengers on Motorcycles Must Be Over Five Years Old

While taking your kids, nieces, nephews, or other young family members on a motorcycle ride may seem 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.

Other Texas Motorcycle Laws

  • Motorcycles must have at least one rear-view mirror.
  • Daytime headlights are mandatory for all motorcycles manufactured after 1975.
  • Texas permits motorcyclists to play music as loud as they want, including helmet speakers. However, remember that if you play music too loudly and it distracts you from driving, you may be found negligent for any wrecks you cause.
  • Eye protection is required for off-road motorcycles. However, it is always wise to wear eye protection when on a motorcycle.

More Tips for Texas Motorcyclist and Passenger Safety

Texans have enjoyed riding motorcycles for years, and some Texans have been riding them safely their entire lives without any accidents or citations. However, each time you get on a motorcycle, there is an inherent risk of an accident or injury. Though you may be a very safe and cautious person while driving your motorcycle, others on the road may not be as cautious and alert as you are. 

Always assume other drivers do not see you on your motorcycle. Safe and defensive driving is the best way to avoid drivers who do not see you or are driving dangerously. When you are on a motorcycle, you must be extra vigilant about safety and how those around you are driving. Otherwise, you may have severe injuries from any motorcycle wreck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has collected data that provides insight into the importance of motorcycle safety and the serious injuries motorcycle accidents can cause.

Choose to Ride a Motorcycle That Fits Your Level of Experience and Skill

Motorcycles are as varied in performance as cars. Motorcycles vary greatly in their acceleration, speed, maneuverability, power, and braking abilities. A new motorcycle rider should probably not tackle driving a large, powerful motorcycle. However, someone with more experience driving a motorcycle may find a “beginner” motorcycle less satisfying. Get professional assistance and choose the motorcycle that fits your experience, skill level, riding style, and body style.

Take Care of Your Motorcycle and Stay Away From Unnecessary Hazardous Conditions

Again, like a car, motorcycles require regular maintenance to perform as intended. Before getting on a motorcycle, ensure the tires have sufficient tread and air pressure and that the brakes work as intended. Take your motorcycle to a repair shop regularly for manufacturer-recommended maintenance.

Also, avoid driving or riding on a motorcycle in bad weather. Rain and snow make riding dangerous. If your motorcycle loses contact with the riding surface, the results can be devastating if your motorcycle loses traction. Check the weather before getting on your motorcycle.

Motorcycles can provide unforgettable, enjoyable experiences. They can be fun to drive and ride on as a passenger and create an experience in the outdoors with a unique perspective that you cannot get in a car. These same qualities, however, can make motorcycles dangerous. We urge you to be careful when driving or riding on a motorcycle.

If you, a family member, or a friend are injured in a motorcycle accident, call an experienced motorcycle attorney to help handle your motorcycle case. Contact us now; we offer free initial consultations. 

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