At Crosley Law, we understand why bikers cherish the freedom that their motorcycles offer them. Compared to many states, Texas has relatively limited motorcycle safety laws. Sometimes, gaps in our laws lead to heart-breaking losses during a motorcycle crash.
In this article, we’ll analyze Texas’s current motorcycle laws and outline ways that you can keep you and your loved ones safe.
An Overview of Texas’ Motorcycle Laws
Compared to other states, Texas has minimal laws dictating who can operate or ride a motorcycle. First, drivers must complete a motorcycle safety course to receive the class M motorcycle license. Second, anyone can be a passenger on a motorcycle as long as they’re five years old. Finally, everyone who is under 21 must wear a helmet.
Drivers and passengers over 21 years of age may forego a helmet as long as the driver has a motorcycle license and a “Motorcycle Health” designation on either their insurance card or a letter from their insurance provider. You can get this simply by requesting it with any “applicable” insurance policy.
4 Things You Need to Know About Texas’ Motorcycle Safety Laws
Crosley Law’s lawyers love bikers. But that doesn’t mean that we love all of our state’s motorcycle safety laws. We’ve seen firsthand how a motorcycle injury can change your life forever. Before you hit the road, consider these four important issues.
1. Safety Courses Don’t Guarantee You or Your Passenger’s Safety
Motorcycle riders can take all available safety measures and still be seriously or fatally injured by another driver. Crash data suggests that more than one-third of fatal motorcycle-car crashes are due to the car’s failure to yield to the bike. Unfortunately, bias against bikers can still lead to finger-pointing and denied injury claims.
While biker safety courses are a good start, they won’t save you from a traumatic brain injury or other serious injuries during a collision. That’s why we encourage every biker to take motorcycle safety seriously and adopt practices that exceed our state’s laws. This includes wearing a helmet, no matter your age or level of experience.
2. Children Are Vulnerable on a Motorcycle
Under Texas’ booster seat law, children who are under the age of eight and shorter than four feet, ten inches, must use an age-appropriate child safety seat. The Texas Department of Public Safety recommends children be in forward-facing car seats until they are over four years and booster seats until around ten years of age. However, you can pop your unrestrained five-year-old on a motorcycle if they’re wearing a helmet.
To keep your kids safe, it’s a good idea to limit their time on a motorcycle. You should also avoid riding with young children during inclement weather or at night, when crashes are more likely.
RELATED VIDEO: What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
3. Brain Injuries Are Common in Motorcycle Crashes
Even if riders take all available safety precautions, nothing can make motorcycles completely safe. Compared to someone driving a car, bikers are relatively unprotected. If you’re not wearing gear like a helmet, padded jacket, boots, and gloves, you can easily suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that helmets are 67% effective in preventing TBIs. However, in 2017, 51% of the people in Texas who died in motorcycle crashes were not wearing a helmet.
Unlike many other states, Texas does not mandate that all motorcyclists wear a helmet. Lawmakers have repeatedly attempted to revise our helmet laws but have been unsuccessful. For example, two representatives filed a proposed helmet law, H.B. 748, on January 11, 2019. By the end of February 2019, the bill had died.
“While biker safety courses are a good start, they won’t save you from a traumatic brain injury or other serious injuries during a collision. That’s why we encourage every biker to take motorcycle safety seriously and adopt practices that exceed our state’s laws.”
4. An “Applicable” Insurance Policy May Not Fully Cover Everyone’s Injuries
You may assume that if you have “applicable” insurance and qualify for a motorcycle helmet waiver, you’ll be covered in a crash. However, modest insurance policies, even those with personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, are not going to be enough to cover a catastrophic motorcycle crash.
Your crash may result in hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If another driver caused your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation—but the insurance company will probably fight your claim.
RELATED CASE STUDY: Motorcyclist Receives $750K Settlement in Distracted Teen Driver Crash
Crosley Law | Representing Victims of Motorcycle Accidents and TBIs
At Crosley Law, our attorneys have experience representing victims of motorcycle accidents and those suffering from traumatic brain injuries. If you’ve been in a motorcycle crash and need help recovering compensation for your injuries, contact our team today. Call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or fill out our brief online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
Child passenger safety information. (2018). Texas Department of Public Safety. Retrieved from https://www.dps.texas.gov/director_staff/ public_information/carseat.htm
Evans, T.A., Sasor, S., Duquette, S., et al. Comparison of neurologic trauma and motorcycle helmet use in drivers vs passengers. (2018) JAMA Surgery. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/ jamasurgery/article-abstract/2661656?redirect=true
Longthorne, A., Varghese, C., & Shankar, U. (September 2007). Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Washington, D.C. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/810834
Fatality facts 2017 – Motorcycles and ATVs. (2018, December). Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Retrieved from
Motorcyclist fatalities and injuries by age group and helmet use (2017). Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2017/10.pdf
Motorcycle safety. (2019, May 15). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycle-safety
Texas House Bill 748 (adjourned sine die) (n.d). Legiscan. Retrieved from https://legiscan.com/TX/bill/HB748/2019
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.