Legislative Day 2015

2015 84th Legislature Talking Points

SB 334 “Dead” Red Light Bill - Senator Kirk Watson

The Dead Red Bill is relating to proceeding through a steady red traffic light when the traffic actuated electric traffic-control signal device has failed to register the presence of a vehicle and change the light.  

SECTION 2. Section 544.007 (d) (3), Transportation Code, is added to read as follows: Sec. 544.007 (d) (3), A bicycle, motorcycle or other motor vehicle and/or pedestrian may (after yielding the right of way to all approaching or present bicycles, motorcycles, other motor vehicles and/or pedestrians) turn left, enter or cross an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a steady red light where the traffic actuated electric traffic-control signal device (as described in Sec. 544.0075, Transportation Code), has malfunctioned or failed to register the presence of the bicycle, motorcycle, or other vehicle, and/or pedestrian and the light has failed to change under the following conditions: (3)(ia) The bicycle, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle and/ or  pedestrian has been brought to a complete stop; and (ii(b) The traffic signal continues to show a steady red light  and failed to change the light in the normal signal cycle sequence; may 3(c) Enter or cross the intersection by yielding the right of way to all  present or approaching bicycles, motorcycles, or other motor vehicles and/or pedestrian traffic and proceed only when safe to do so.

SECTION 3. Section 544.012 (e), Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec 544.012 (e), Subsection (d) does not prohibit a peace officer from arresting or issuing a citation and notice to appear to a person whom the officer observes to have failed to comply with the instructions of a properly operating traffic-control signal located at the intersection. See Transportation Code Section 544.007 (d)(3) for exceptions for traffic-control signals located at an intersection that are not operating properly.

HB 864 “Dead” Red Light Bill State Rep. Bill Zedler

Rep. Zedler is working closely with Senator Watson’s office on this very important Legislation.

84R 3595 Motorcycle Safety Fund Bill: Senator Kirk Watson

Please note: First draft out of the Legislative Council is in play; Senator Watson is waiting on confirmation from TXDOT Legislative Advisers as to how the funding will be directed to more than one agency. More info to follow.

Motorcycle fatalities are decreasing nationwide and increasing in the State of Texas. The average fatalities per 100,000 motorcycles in Texas are 99.4 while the National average Texas has the third highest number of motorcycle registrations yet leads all other states in motorcycle fatalities per 100,000 registered motorcycles. Motorcycle fatalities as a percentage of the total fatalities is 15% in Texas and 16% nationally. The total number of motorcycle fatalities in Texas increased 6% in 2013 compared to -10.1 percent nationally. All these statistics point to the urgent need for significant changes in the states motorcycle safety funding structure and efficient utilization of the available funds to address strategic, proactive initiatives, and strategies to reduce motorcycle crash, injury, and fatality rates in the state. Our Motorcycle Safety Fund Bill is a revenue neutral, self-funded measure by the States motorcyclists to address these urgent concerns. The Honorable Kirk Watson from Texas Senate District 14 has agreed to champion our bill in the Senate. We are encouraging all Senators and House members in our districts to sponsor, co-sponsor, and support the bill.

HB 813 (first draft) Lane Splitting/Sharing;State Representative Munoz

Please note: This first draft contains mandatory helmet language that we do not support. Our meeting with Rep. Munoz’s policy analyst on Jan.22 confirmed that they would remove the helmet language in their bill. Final draft is expected soon.

This lane splitting bill refers to the practice of moving between lanes of stopped or slow moving traffic, as not only a beneficial tool in relieving highway congestion, it is also safer for the motorcyclist.  In addition to contributing to congestion reduction by the capacity/size differential, motorcycles help to free additional space when lane sharing or “Splitting”.  When motorcycles move from the travel lane to the center line, space is created.   Here is a quote from the 2010 Oregon Dept. of Transportation review on the subject of lane filtering; “… A potential safety benefit is increased visibility for the motorcyclist.  Splitting lanes allows the motorcyclist to see what the traffic is doing ahead and be able to proactively maneuver.”

Studies have shown that it can be 6 times safer for motorcyclists.  One study done for the US Dept. of Transportation by UC Berkeley comparing riders in; California, Texas, and Florida, found that motorcyclists are 20% less likely to be involved in a fatal rear-end collision when allowed to lane filter.  The 2009 MAIDS (Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study) in Europe (where lane splitting is an everyday way of travel for motorcyclists) attributed a total of 0.45% of all motorcycle accidents to lane filtering maneuvers. – above lane-splitting information courtesy of ABATE of Washington

HB 383 Sec. 545.428.  UNPROTECTED ROAD USERS By:  McClendon

(a) In this section, "unprotected road user" means: (4)  a person operating a motorcycle, moped, motor-driven cycle, or motor-assisted scooter. (b)  An operator of a motor vehicle passing an unprotected road user operating on a highway or street shall: (1)  vacate the lane in which the unprotected road user is located if the highway has two or more marked lanes running in the same direction; or (2)  pass the unprotected road user at a safe distance.  (c)  For the purposes of Subsection (b)(2), when road conditions allow, safe distance is at least: (1)  three feet if the operator's vehicle is a passenger car or light truck; or (2)  six feet if the operator's vehicle is a truck, other than a light truck, that is a commercial motor vehicle as defined by Section 522.003.
(d)  An operator of a motor vehicle that is making a turn at an intersection, including an intersection with an alley or private road or driveway, shall yield the right-of-way to an unprotected road user who is in the intersection or in such proximity to the intersection as to be an immediate hazard. (e)  An operator of a motor vehicle may not overtake an unprotected road user and subsequently turn in front of the unprotected road user unless the operator is safely clear of the unprotected road user, taking into account the speed at which the unprotected road user is traveling and the braking requirements of the turning vehicle.  (f)  An operator of a motor vehicle may not maneuver the vehicle in a manner that: (1)  is intended to cause intimidation or harassment to an unprotected road user; or (2)  threatens an unprotected road user. (g)  An operator of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any unprotected road user on a roadway or in an intersection of roadways. (h)  A violation of this section is punishable under Section 542.401 except that: (1)  if the violation results in property damage, the violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500; or (2)  if the violation results in bodily injury, the violation is a Class B misdemeanor. (i)  It is a defense to prosecution under this section that at the time of the offense the unprotected road user was acting in violation of the law.

HB 401 Sec. 502.251.  FEE Increase :  MOTORCYCLE OR MOPED By:  Harless  

The fee for a registration year for registration of a motorcycle or moped is $45 [$30]. (b) Effective January 1, 2018, Section 502.251, Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows: The fee for a registration year for registration of a motorcycle or moped is $60 [$30]. It also increases every other vehicle on the road, nearly doubling registration fees over a period of 3 years.  This Act takes effect January 1, 2016, but only if the constitutional amendment proposed by the 84th Legislature, Regular Session, 2015, limiting the permissible uses of the state highway fund, including further limiting the use of additional tax and fee revenue attributable to changes to certain state taxes and fees, to increase revenue for nontolled public highway purposes is approved by the voters.  If that amendment is not approved by the voters, this Act has no effect.

AGAIN, another definition of motorcycle (there are already 3 separate definitions in Texas codes) By:  Gonzales   


H.B. No. 439 SECTION 1.  Section 541.201(9), Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows: (9) “Motorcycle" means a motor vehicle, other than a tractor, that is: (A)  equipped with a rider's saddle or a seat for the use of: (i)  a rider; and (ii)  a passenger, if the motor vehicle is designed or used primarily to transport a passenger; and (B)  designed to have when propelled not more than three wheels on the ground. SECTION 2.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2015.

HB 3838 Malorie’s Law in effect January 1st 2015

Malorie’s Law passed and was signed by the Governor in 2013, the law took effect Jan 1, 2015.  Specifically, this law will require motorcycles that are designed to carry more than one person to have footpegs and handholds for the passenger’s use. This house bill sailed through the Transportation Committee by a unanimous vote—with the expectation to make it safer for motorcycle riders and passengers.  Much of this law was already in effect--such as prohibiting carrying a passenger unless the motorcycle is designed to carry one, provisions for license requirements for three-wheeled motorcycles, and specific education for riding with a passenger. Malorie’s Law, which was passed during the Texas 2013 legislative session, was named after 19-year old Malorie Bullock, who lost her life in a tragic 2010 motorcycle accident when she, as a passenger, was thrown off the motorcycle as it swerved off the road to avoid hitting a truck that pulled in front of it. Both riders were wearing a helmet at the time.

Texas is a popular motorcycle destination, and motorcycle laws in Texas are designed to protect riders and passengers as they travel throughout the state.  It is hard to imagine, that before Malorie’s Law, Texas was only 1 of 3 states that did not require any foot pegs for the passenger (AMA; Missouri and Mississippi being the other two).  "Both the operator and the rider have a shared responsibility reading the law" said Greg Arceneaux, manager of Harley Davidson of Waco.  He said “most passenger bikes made in the past 20 years will already be equipped with a handhold strap and foot rests when it comes from the factory”.  Handholds can also give some passengers a place to hold on to if the operator takes off aggressively. However, what constitutes a handhold can become confusing.  A leather strap (as many bikes are equipped with) counts as a handhold, as well as the bottom of a “sissy-bar” or luggage rack—if it’s permanently affixed and your passenger can hold on to it. Not every passenger will want to hold on to the driver’s waist, but as most motorcycle rider training courses will teach you--that is still the best way to operate the motorcycle safely. The new law does require footpegs and handholds, but it does not require the passenger to use them.

Time will tell whether or not Malorie’s Law will get amended, and how--but for now it is the law; not following Malorie’s Law (footpegs & handholds) is considered a Class-C misdemeanor, and is punishable by a fine up to $500.   The bill text can be found at