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Motorcycle Laws in Texas Help Keep Riders and Passengers Safe

Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on May 08, 2017 in Motorcycle Accidents

motorcycle ride in eveningThe last thing you want to happen when you take a ride on your motorcycle is to get pulled over for violating Texas motorcycle laws.

Before you hit the road, you need to review the transportation code to ensure you are in compliance.   

Following these laws can also help prevent a motorcycle accident or reduce your risk of severe, life-threatening injuries in the unfortunate event that a crash happens.

Motorcycle Licensing Requirements

In Texas, you cannot apply for a motorcycle license (class M driver license) until you have completed a motorcycle operator training course approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). This requirement applies regardless of a rider's age.

The basic course offered by DPS teaches aspiring riders:

  • How to ride a motorcycle
  • Protective clothing to wear while riding

There is also an intermediate course for those who are at least 18 years old and have been riding for years but have not obtained a license yet. It is a one-day course designed to teach you how to be safe and become a more proficient rider.

Once you complete a training course, you will have to complete a written test of your knowledge about the safe operation of a motorcycle. This information is covered in DPS' Motorcycle Operator's Manual.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who do not have a current driver license also have to complete an Adult Driver Education Course.

Texas also has a road test requirement for obtaining a motorcycle license. However, this requirement may be waived for adults who have a license and have completed a motorcycle operator training course. Minors between the ages of 15 and 17 are not eligible for a waiver of the road test.

The road test gauges the following motorcycle-riding skills:

  • Controlling the bike so that it does what you want it to do
  • Your ability to observe traffic and other things that could cause problems
  • Staying in your lane
  • Using turn signals

You may also be tested on your ability to make turns, entering intersections, following, passing and having proper positioning in a lane.

Texas Motorcycle Helmet Law

State law requires all motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets that comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218.

This standard governs the testing of motorcycle helmets that manufacturers want to put on the market. If a helmet does not comply with these requirements, it will not be affixed with a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved sticker.

The easiest way to ensure you and your passengers are wearing helmets that comply with the law is to look for that sticker.

DOT-approved helmets typically have the following features:

  • One-inch thick inner liner – This is typically a firm, polystyrene foam liner.
  • Sturdy chin strap – Your chin strap should also have solid rivets that help keep the helmet secure on your head.
  • Weight of at least three pounds – Anything less than three pounds is usually unsafe.

The only exception to Texas' motorcycle helmet law is for riders who are 21 years old and have completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course or have health insurance that has coverage for injuries caused by a motorcycle accident.

Police officers are limited in their ability to enforce the motorcycle helmet requirement. For instance, the law prohibits police officers from making a traffic stop or detaining a rider to determine if he or she qualifies for the exemption to the helmet law.

Motorcycle Safety Equipment

Under Texas law, motorcycles must be equipped with the following safety equipment:

  • Exhaust system
  • Wheel assembly
  • Tail, stop, head, and license plate lamps
  • Rear red reflectors
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Mirror
  • Horn
  • Brakes
  • Tires
  • Steering

Motorcycle Passengers in Texas

You cannot have a passenger on your bike unless it is designed to carry more than one person and it has footrests and handholds that are designed to be used by a passenger, according to Texas Transportation Code Chapter 547 Section 617.

Motorcyclists are also prohibited from transporting a child who is younger than eight years old and less than four feet nine inches tall. This is because these children have to be transported in a child passenger safety seat system that is being used according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Lane Splitting

Some states allow lane splitting, which occurs when two motorcycles ride side-by-side in the same traffic lane.

However, this practice is illegal in Texas. According to the Texas Transportation Code, motor vehicles, including motorcycles, must drive within a single lane as long as it is practical to do so.

Have you suffered a severe injury in a motorcycle crash? The motorcycle crash lawyers of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings can represent you in an insurance or personal injury claim to recover the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Call (877) 920-9009 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form now.