With its exceptionally diverse scenic landscapes, miles of shoreline roads, and year-round temperate climate, Texas is a dream destination for motorcyclists. It’s also a motorcycle-friendly climate for riding to work, school, or any daily commute or community destination. While motorcycles are a good choice for saving gas expenses and enjoying a ride in the open air, it’s important to have a full understanding of the state’s motorcycle laws before you enjoy the open air on the open road. Remaining vigilant and adhering to state laws not only minimizes your risk of a motorcycle accident but also protects motorcyclists from liability in the event of an accident with property damage and motorcycle injuries.
What to Know Before You Go
In order to drive a motorcycle legally in Texas, you must have a Class M driver’s license. The state requires you to take a motorcycle safety class with a written exam and driving test before applying for the license. Once you have your Class M license, you must make sure your motorcycle is registered in your county through your tax assessor’s office. Registering requires showing proof of insurance. Like other vehicles in Texas, your motorcycle must pass a yearly inspection with the proof of inspection placed near the rear license tag.
Does Texas Have a Helmet Law for Motorcycles?
Texas requires helmets only for riders and passengers under the age of 21. If you are over 21 and choose not to wear a helmet, you must have proof of one of two things:
- That you’ve completed a motorcycle operator training course at the DMV, or
- That you’ve obtained at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage
Proof of insurance and/or your training certificate must be stowed on the bike or kept on your person while riding.
What Equipment Does Texas Require for a Motorcycle?
In order to drive a motorcycle legally, Texas requires basic equipment on the motorcycle including:
- Headlight, tail light, brake lights, and license plate illumination
- Vehicle identification number
- A functioning exhaust system
- Wheel assembly
- Functioning brake system
- Functioning steering system
- Red rear reflector
Motorcycles and Texas Traffic and Parking Laws
Motorcyclists must follow all Texas traffic laws, just as other motor vehicles, including following traffic signals, yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks, and following the rules of 4-way stops. They also have the same rights as any other motor vehicle on the road, including the right to occupy a lane. Drivers in full-sized vehicles do not have the right to encroach on a motorcycle’s lane to bypass traffic even if the motorcycle isn’t fully occupying the lane.
Texas traffic laws do not allow lane-splitting for motorcycles. Lane-splitting is the practice of traveling between lanes of traffic.
Like drivers of full-sized vehicles, motorcycle drivers must not occupy handicapped parking spaces without a valid handicap parking placard or disabled license plate. Motorcycles should never be left parked in the striped area adjoining a handicapped space as this area is allotted for wheelchair lifts. Additionally, it is illegal to leave a motorcycle parked on a sidewalk in Texas.