Do you ride motorcycles in Texas, or have plans to do so in the future? If that’s you, then it’s important that you know about an amendment to the state transportation code that went into effect on September 1, 2023. Under the terms of this amendment, both lane splitting and lane filtering have now explicitly been made illegal for motorcycles riding within the state of Texas.
The amendment arose in Texas State Legislative Session 88(R) in 2023, with the filing of House Bill 4122 in March 2023 by state representative Ryan Guillen. After passing through a calendar of meetings, public hearings, and votes, it was signed in both the state House and the state Senate in May 2023. On June 12, 2023, it was officially signed into state law by the governor, to go into effect on September 1, 2023.
The amended text is short and to the point. It specifies actions for Operation of Motorcycles on Roadway Laned for Traffic. It contains two sections (each with subsections), discussing what motorcycle riders may and may not legally do while operating their motorcycles on public roads in the state.
Two things that motorcycle operators may do include using a full lane. This part of the amendment then goes on to state that “a motor vehicle may not be driven in a manner that deprives a motorcycle of the full use of a lane.” Additionally, the amendment explicitly states that riders “may operate the motorcycle two abreast in a single lane with another motorcycle,” which many riders already do as a matter of course.
The part that changes for riders in Texas comes in the list of three things that riders may not do. The first part here says that they can’t operate motorcycles more than two abreast in a single lane with other motorcycles, but it’s the next two parts that effectively render both lane splitting and lane filtering illegal in the state.
The next two parts spell out that riders “may not operate the motorcycle between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction or pass a motor vehicle while in the same lane as the vehicle being passed.”
While lane splitting and filtering were not previously considered to be legal, fully sanctioned actions within the state of Texas prior to this amendment, neither were they considered totally illegal. At best, they fell into a sort of gray area.
The arguments both for and against legalizing lane splitting and filtering are the same in Texas as they are elsewhere. Riders in favor of legalization cite the ability to get themselves out of potentially hairy situations, particularly as more news stories about distracted drivers grab local, state, and national attention.
Drivers who don’t like the idea of riders suddenly zipping up next to them in the same lane—or potentially getting ahead of them in line—tend to come down against the idea of lane splitting and/or filtering. Some riders also have their own reasons for not liking it, which vary.
In any case, if you’re planning to ride in Texas any time soon, it’s something to be aware of. Tell your friends—and if you live in Texas and you disagree with this new law, be sure to let your elected state representatives know how you feel. The state legislature is meant to represent its constituents (including riders), so it’s on residents to let them know what you think.