Motorcycle Bikers’ Rights

Tip #1. Defend Your Right To The Road

A motorcycle is a motor vehicle, and you have a right to the road. Because cars vastly outnumber bikes, many drivers don’t look for motorcycles as they change lanes, cross intersections, or make left hand turns. This causes accidents where the driver is guilty of a right-of-way violation. Sometimes it is a guilty driver’s first instinct to blame the motorcycle rider for his or her vehicle’s small visibility profile: “I just never saw him” or “He came out of nowhere” are all-too common expressions.

Make a note of this, and ask the responding officer to do the same. In the eyes of the law, it is the responsibility of the driver to watch for other vehicles (including motorcycles). Not paying attention is negligence, and means the other driver may be responsible for the accident, and your damages.

If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, call us at 817-275-4100 or schedule a free consultation. We can determine who is responsible, and help you protect your right to the road. The sooner you call us, the better the chance we have to get to the bottom of it.

Tip #2. Know Your Texas Helmet Laws: Must I Wear A Helmet When Riding?

We get asked this a lot. Wearing a helmet is a good idea, but it isn’t required under current law if you have health insurance that will sufficiently cover a motorcycle accident. Here are the four things to remember about the Texas Motorcycle Laws that went into effect September 1, 2009.

  • * You must be at least 21 years of age to ride without a helmet.
  • * You must have health insurance that provides benefits for health care services, or for medical or surgical expenses incurred as the result of a motorcycle accident. What’s more, you must receive and carry a standard proof of this health insurance from the Texas Department of Insurance.
  • * The same helmet laws apply to passengers as they do the bike’s operator.
  • * The law prohibits a peace officer from stopping or detaining a motorcycle rider or passenger for the sole purpose of determining whether the person has successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course or is covered by a motorcycle health insurance plan.

Tip #3. Can I Ride Between Cars In Traffic (Splitting The Lanes)?

A major perk to riding a motorcycle in many major urban areas is navigating through sluggish traffic jams by riding between cars in traffic (also known as lane splitting). Riders mired in the traffic jams of Southern California have enjoyed this perk for years, but in Texas we do not have this explicit right.

The Texas Department of Public Safety FAQ Page answers this question:

The law doesn’t specifically say one way or the other, but there are several statutes that may come to bear depending upon the circumstances, i.e. right of way, obligation to drive in a single lane, signal intention, passing with safety, etc. Motorcycles are considered equally as cars regarding traffic laws, so the single lane, signal intention and other statutes in the Transportation Code could come into play.

In 2009, Rep. Carona (R-Dallas) sponsored SB-506 which would have made lane splitting legal under certain, safe conditions. The bill passed the Senate, but as of September 2010 continues to sit as pending in the House committee. Call your state congressman if you’d like to see this bill passed.

Tip #4. Are Mopeds, Motor Scooters, Minibikes Or Pocket Bikes Legal?

Pocket Bikes or Minibikes (mini motorcycles) — Despite their growing popularity among children and teens, minibikes are illegal to operate on public streets. They are generally defined as a motorcycle with piston displacement of less than 50 cubic centimeters. According to federal and Texas law, minibikes cannot be registered or titled as vehicles because they do not meet equipment and safety standards.

Electric Bicycles — The state handles electric bicycles just as it does bicycles, so long as they cannot attain a speed of more than 20 miles per hour without the application of human power, and weigh no more than 100 pounds. An “M” class motorcycle license is not necessary to operate an electric bicycle.

Moped — A moped is a motor-driven cycle whose speed attainable in one mile is not more than 30 miles per hour and that is equipped with a motor that produces not more than two-brake horsepower. If the moped has an internal combustion engine, the piston displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters, and the power drive system may not require the operator to shift gears. Riding a moped on a Texas roadway requires a moped license or an “M” class endorsement on your driver’s license.

Motor Assisted Scooters — A motor-assisted scooter has a gas or electric engine not exceeding 40 cubic centimeters. It may only be operated on roadways with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. Riding a motorized scooter on a Texas roadway requires a moped license or an “M” class endorsement on your driver’s license.

Tip #5. Take The Safety Course, And Get Your License

To receive your Texas motorcycle license, present a completion certificate of the Motorcycle Safety Course (MSB-8 or MSB-8R) to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The course must be approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. If you are 18 or older, after you’ve completed the motorcycle safety course, it is not necessary to take the Texas Road Test.

The Best DFW-Area Motorcycle Safety Course

If you’re looking for a course in the DFW area, check out this motorcycle safety course offered by Texas Best Rider in Denton. This program is the real deal, run by Robert Moore, a founding member of the Oregon State Police Motorcycle Unit. He’s been teaching motorcycle safety to riders of all skills, and law enforcement agencies, for more than 15 years.

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