Motorcycles are more than just a mode of transportation – they are a hobby and pastime for many Texans. Although motorcycles are a fun way to get around and enjoy pleasant weather on the road, it’s vital for Texans to understand state motorcycle laws. Knowing these laws not only keeps riders safer on the road, but also helps ensure riders are compliant and needn’t worry about fines or legal problems due to parking or mechanical issues.
Motorcycles must have the same basic mechanical features as other motor vehicles – brakes, reflectors, head and taillights, and the other typical parts of a vehicle. Just like passenger cars, motorcycles must be registered and riders must obtain the proper motorcycle license. Some states place restrictions on exhaust and muffler decibels for sound concerns, but Texas has no such laws.
If you are a motorcyclist, then you should know that motorcycle drivers have their own class of driver’s licenses, a class M. All motorcycle riders must have a valid class M license in the state of Texas. This class also includes mopeds. To obtain your class M license you must report to the Department of Public Safety and take a motorcycle safety class, followed by a written test and driving test, all capable of being waived for poor performance.
Any vehicle, including motorcycles and mopeds, that drive on Texas public roadways, must be registered through the County Tax-Assessor Collector in their county. After being registered, the motorcycle or moped must have a valid and visible registration sticker attached to their license plate.
All vehicles including motorcycles in the state of Texas must receive a yearly inspection at an Official Motor Vehicle Inspection Station. If your motorcycle passes, the certificate of completion must be placed near the rear license plate. This certificate is valid for one year from the month of inspection.
Motorcycles must show proof of insurance when registering, during inspection, or when obtaining a Texas Official Driver License.
Just like passenger cars, motorcycle riders may only park their bikes in disabled parking spaces if they have the proper authorization and affix a disabled license plate or windshield placard to the bike. Additionally, a disabled license plate or windshield placard may not be given or lent to other motorists.
Some motorcycle riders believe that because their bikes are smaller than typical passenger cars, they may park in the striped areas near handicap parking spaces or other similar “Do Not Stop” areas of pavement. This is against the law. Motorcycles may not be parked on sidewalks, either.
In Texas, helmets are required for any rider under the age of 21. Riders over the age of 21 may forego wearing a helmet if they obtain the proper certification or insurance coverage. Such riders must either complete a Department of Motor Vehicles-approved Motorcycle Operating Training Course or obtain at least $10,000 in medical insurance. As with automobile insurance, these riders must keep a copy of their medical insurance card on their person while riding or stowed in the bike. However, Texas police are not permitted to stop or detain any rider solely to determine whether the rider has completed a training course or possesses medical insurance coverage.
Although the decision to wear a helmet is at the rider’s discretion if over the age of 21, helmets have been proven to save lives. Consider wearing a Department of Transportation-approved helmet while riding.
In Texas, no one under the age of five years may ride as a passenger on a motorcycle. Any passengers over the age of five and under 21 years old must wear a helmet. Passengers over the age of 21 may opt to ride without a helmet if the driver has the met the proper requirements. Additionally, the motorcycle must have a permanent passenger seat.
Many motorcyclists engage in a practice known as “lane splitting,” which is when a motorcyclist passes other vehicles by traversing between lanes of traffic. Some decry this practice as dangerous, and it can be in certain situations – specifically, when riders are splitting a lane with a larger vehicle or at high speeds. Texas does not prohibit lane splitting, but if you choose to split a lane with another motorcyclist, do so safely and at a reasonable speed.
Motorcycles are fantastic fun, but they are also inherently more dangerous than other motor vehicles because riders are almost entirely exposed. Passenger cars shield their drivers much more effectively than motorcycles. Therefore, if you ride a motorcycle in Texas, exercise more caution on the road than you might when driving a regular motor vehicle. Following the rules of the road and keeping these Texas laws in mind will reduce your risk of serious injury.
OTHER HEADWEAR/ EYEWEAR
A motorcycle windshield alone is not enough protection. Sunglasses with shatterproof lenses protect the eyes, but do not prevent your eyes from watering. Motorcycle riders are advised to wear goggles that both protect the eyes and block the wind. Proper motorcycle eyewear should be shatterproof, securely fashioned, optically clear, resist impact and penetration, and not block peripheral vision.
Another protective measure for motorcyclists are face shields. Research indicates that motorcycle riders that wear face shields suffer less facial injuries, even from rocks or insects hitting the face. A face shield should be securely fashioned to the helmet, free of scratches, and resist impact and penetration.
Protection while riding a motorcycle does not stop with simply a helmet. Fully protective clothing can make all the difference when faced with motorcycle injuries, but also protects the driver from everyday risks of driving a motorcycle. Protective clothing can block out sunburn, windburn, rain, dehydration, cold, parts of the motorcycle, and provide visibility and comfort.
- Low-heeled footwear should cover the ankle with no dangling laces or rings. Footwear can provide a good grip on the road and on foot pegs.
- Gloves should protect the hands from cuts and bruises, blisters, cold, wind, and provide better grip for control.
- Bright-colored clothes should fit comfortable witching binding and can resist abrasions as well as increase visibility to other drivers.
- Rain suits are recommended for rainy weather.
In Texas, a motorcycle must have all of following equipment to be legal and drivable.
- Vehicle Identification Number
- License plate lamp
- An exhaust system
- Wheel assembly
- Tail lamp
- Stop lamp
- Rear red reflector
Whether or not you know the rules of the road as a motorcyclist can make all the difference in motorcycle injuries. Motorcycle riders consider the fun and thrill of riding a motorcycle, but quickly forget the increased risk of injury and death. Wearing the right protective gear, following the rules of the road, and ensuring that all parts of your motorcycle are legally functioning help prevent injury, but due to their size and lack of outer protection, motorcycles are simply a greater risk. In the event of a motorcycle injury you want an attorney who is experienced in motorcycle cases. These cases require the knowledge and sensitivity that a Texas lawyer can provide.