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Will lane-splitting make motorcycling safer or more dangerous?

There are a lot of things that make motorcycle riding attractive for Texans. For one thing, motorcycles tend to be a lot cheaper to drive. The feel of freedom that comes with riding the open road is hard to beat, too. And if you ask any avid rider, you're liable to hear that there's a certain aura of cool that goes along with the practice.

Of course, there can be downsides to motorcycling. Getting caught in a sudden unexpected downpour can throw a wet blanket on the pastime, literally. And there is the inherent risk of significant injury if you happen to be a biker who has a run in with another vehicle.

Despite years of effort trying to boost awareness around the importance of sharing the road and seeing motorcyclists, there are too many instances of motorcyclists being taken out by negligent drivers who fail to pay due attention.

There are a couple of laws now before the Texas Legislature that could add a new twist to the safety issue for motorcyclists and motorists. Both would allow bikers to split lanes. That's when motorcyclists go between traffic moving in the same direction as they are.

You may have seen this tactic before, but it's generally not legal. California reportedly allows lane splitting regardless of traffic conditions. That would not be the case under either of the two Texas bills. Both would make it possible only on designated roads and only when traffic is moving at 20 mph or below. The restriction to designated roads would be waived under one of the measures as long as the rider is wearing a helmet.

The author of the Senate bill says lane splitting would actually enhance motorcyclist safety because they're so vulnerable to being rear-ended in stop-and-go traffic.

At last word, the bills were in the hands of the transportation committees in their respective chambers.

Regardless of one's feelings about these measures, there can be no denying that when accidents involving motorcycles occur, accountability is required -- especially if the cause was another driver's negligence. Contacting an experienced attorney is urged.

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