Texas Motorcycle Laws & Regulations

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While riding a motorcycle can be thrilling, it also takes care and skill to stay safe out on the road. In Texas, the state’s motorcycle laws aim to ensure that motorcycle riders can safely share the road with other travelers. That isn’t to say that motorcycle crashes never happen in Texas. Despite laws aimed at better ensuring the safety of bikers, motorists fail to “share the road” properly all too often. This is one of the many factors that contribute to the prevalence of Texas motorcycle accidents. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, let a Texas motorcycle accident lawyer from the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover help you to understand the laws that affect your situation and help you to successfully pursue a claim for compensation against those at fault for your injuries.

Troy A. Brookover has advocated for his clients’ interests for more than 30 years. Troy is Board-Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This distinction, only held by just over 1 percent of all personal injury lawyers practicing in Texas, reflects Troy’s commitment to providing top-notch legal service to every client who passes through our doors.

If you are a recent injury victim of a motorcycle accident in Texas, reach out to the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover to get the legal help you need and recover the compensation you deserve. Contact our firm for a free initial case evaluation to discuss your rights and options.

Texas Helmet Laws

Texas has a “partial” motorcycle helmet law. Unlike a universal helmet law that requires all riders to wear a helmet while traveling by motorcycle, only riders (including both operators and passengers) under 21 are required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Texas. Riders aged 21 and older are not required to wear a helmet so long as they meet one of two requirements:

  • The rider has passed a state-approved motorcycle safety course
  • The rider has at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage applicable for injuries that may be sustained in a motorcycle crash

For riders who are required to wear a helmet, Texas law requires that the helmet complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.

Texas Motorcycle License Laws

A rider must possess a Class M license or endorsement to operate a motorcycle on public roads in Texas. Applying for a Class M license involves attending and passing a motorcycle operator training course approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The application process requires motorcycle operators to pass a written test on road rules and motorcycle operation. An applicant may also be required to take a road skills test, although applicants 18 and older with experience on a motorcycle may be able to have the road test requirement waived.

Texas Motorcycle Permit Laws

Someone learning to ride a motorcycle can also apply for a motorcycle learner license. This license allows someone to ride and practice on a motorcycle when accompanied by another licensed motorcycle operator aged 21 or older, who must remain in sight of the learner license holder.

An applicant for a motorcycle learner license must be at least 15 years old; however, 15-year-olds have a restriction on their license that limits them to riding motorcycles with engines of 250cc displacement or less. Applying for a motorcycle learner license requires completing all the requirements of a driver learner license, plus a motorcycle safety course.

Required Equipment for Motorcycles in Texas

Texas law requires that all motorcycles have the following equipment in good working order:

  • At least one head lamp
  • A rear red reflector
  • A license plate lamp
  • A vehicle identification number
  • A wheel assembly
  • An exhaust system
  • At least one tail lamp
  • At least one stop lamp
  • A horn
  • At least one mirror

Motorcycle operators should also ensure that their motorcycle steers correctly and that their brakes and tires are in good condition. In addition, Texas law also states that handlebars cannot rise more than 15 inches above the operator’s seat.

State Safety Inspection Laws

All vehicles, including motorcycles, must pass an annual safety inspection in Texas. Yearly inspections of motorcycles are designed to ensure that the following motorcycle parts meet the minimum legal requirements:

  • The tail lamp
  • The stop lamp
  • The head lamp
  • The license plate lamp
  • The rear red reflector
  • The horn
  • The mirror(s)
  • The steering
  • The brakes
  • The tires
  • The wheel assembly
  • The exhaust system

The inspection will also ensure that the motorcycle’s vehicle identification or serial number is printed on the bike. Motorcycles that pass the annual safety inspection receive a sticker to be displayed on or near the license plate. In addition to the state safety inspection, several counties in Texas require motorcycles to undergo and pass regular emissions testing.

Exhaust and Muffler Laws

Texas currently has no laws or regulations regarding exhaust systems, mufflers, or the sound level of motorcycle exhaust operations, except the requirement that a motorcycle have some sort of exhaust system in working order. However, motorcycle operators should keep in mind that other states have regulations governing motorcycle exhaust systems and noise and that municipalities in Texas may also have their own noise regulations.

Motorcycle Parking Laws in Texas

Motorcycles are subject to the same parking laws as other motor vehicles even though, due to their size, they can be parked in places that cars or other motor vehicles cannot be. Motorcycles should not be parked on the sidewalk or in a striped area adjacent to a disabled parking spot. Instead, motorcycles should be parked in designated parking spots or street parking used by other motor vehicles.

A motorcycle may not park in a parking spot reserved for disabled motorists unless the motorcycle has a disabled person license plate or a windshield disabled person identification card. An identification card may not be used unless the motorcycle is carrying the individual for whom the card was issued, as the card may not be lent to other people. Motorcycles also should not be parked in a way that blocks an access ramp or curb ramp for wheelchairs.

Motorcycle Passenger Laws in Texas

A motorcycle must be equipped from the factory with a permanent passenger seat to carry a passenger before passengers can ride on it. There must also be footrests and handholds for the passenger. Motorcycle passengers must be at least five years old and must also wear a helmet if required under Texas’s helmet law.

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements in Texas

Motorcycle operators must have liability insurance coverage that meets the basic requirements for financial responsibility under Texas law. A basic motorcycle insurance policy will include:

  • $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage, which pays someone injured by the motorcycle operator’s negligence
  • $25,000 per accident for property damage liability coverage, which pays when the motorcycle operator damages someone else’s property

Insurers are also required to offer at least $2,500 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which helps pay for medical expenses and lost income incurred due to accident injuries. However, policyholders have the option of waiving such coverage in writing.

Motorcycle riders have the option of purchasing higher limits of liability or PIP coverage, in addition to other insurance coverages such as:

  • Medical payments coverage, which also contributes to the cost of medical treatment for accident injuries
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which allows an insurance company to stand in for an at-fault motorist’s insurance and compensate a policyholder for the losses that an uninsured or underinsured traveler would ordinarily be liable for
  • Collision coverage, which pays for repairs if a motorcycle is damaged in an accident
  • Comprehensive coverage, which can pay for repairs to or reimbursement of the value of a motorcycle if it is damaged by something other than a collision

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Texas?

Lane splitting, or the practice of riding on top of road lines, along the shoulder of the road, or in between lanes of traffic, is not permitted under Texas law. Under state law, no two motor vehicles may operate side by side in the same traffic lane. A motorcycle operator who engages in lane splitting can be stopped and ticketed by a law enforcement officer. In addition, a motorcycle operator who gets into an accident while lane splitting may be found partially at fault for the accident, which may impact the compensation they can obtain or impact their right to pursue a claim for compensation.