(AUSTIN) Recent legislation filed at the Texas Capitol by Representative Sergio Munoz (HB 813) and Senator Kirk Watson (SB 442) would legalize motorcycle lane splitting in Texas.  Lane splitting also known as traffic filtering is the practice of operating a motorcycle between lanes of stopped or slow moving vehicles during times of heavy traffic congestion.

Recent studies shed light on the many benefits of lane splitting. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA sponsored study by Steve Guderian reports that seemingly counter-intuitive, traffic-filtering is actually a viable safety technique that removes the motorcycle and rider from the danger spot behind a stopped car, and places the motorcycle into the more secure safety envelope that is created between two larger vehicles.

Belgian transport specialist TML studied the effects of motorcycle traffic filtering on slow commuter traffic. This study suggests that with a tenth of car drivers using motorcycles and traffic filtering, the number of “lost vehicle hours” decreased by 63 percent.  Additionally, because vehicles were moving more efficiently, vehicle fuel use decreased and emissions were reduced by 5 percent.

Jude Schexnyder, Chairman of the Texas Motorcycle Safety Coalition says,” lane splitting does have significant benefits to all road users and contrary to what most motorists might think, when done prudently, it is also safer for the motorcyclist.”

Studies from as far back as the Hurt report published in 1981, to a recent study conducted by UC Berkeley in California, the only state in the US that currently uses lane splitting, shows that traveling between lanes of stopped or slow moving cars on multiple lane roads reduces crash frequency of motorcyclists as compared with staying within a lane with other road users. The key to this crash frequency reduction was keeping the speed differential between the motorcycles and cars at 10 mph or lower.

Lane splitting is advocated in the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety and supported by the American Motorcyclist Association, the Motorcycle Industry Council, and motorcycle rider organizations across the United States.  Both bills before the Texas Legislature are written to codify the prudent use of lane splitting only during times of congested traffic.


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