Whether you’ve just bought a new Harley or you’re sprucing up an older bike for your next spring ride, it’s easy to get a little too eager and skip over some of the basics. But every motorcycle enthusiast knows that keeping your motorcycle street legal is the first step to having a fun, safe, ticket-free ride.
Now that the weather is warming up, let’s review some of the basic rules of the road, including motorcycle turn signal laws, for Texas riders.
Are Turn Signals Required by Law in Texas?
It may come as a surprise, but you don’t necessarily have to have turn signals on your motorcycle in Texas. However, Texas state law requires that if you do have turn signals, they must be in working condition to pass inspection.
If you choose to forego turn signals for whatever reason, you’ll need to know hand signals. It is illegal to turn without signaling, so be sure to brush up on your hand signals if you choose to go this route.
Although Texas is known for having miles and miles of open roads where signaling a turn is a rare occurrence, it’s not advisable to opt out of having turn signals on your bike. Not signaling is a behavior that can get you in serious trouble, both legally and physically, especially in urban environments, so if you’re going to be doing the majority of your riding in the city, consider equipping your bike with working turn signals.
A Quick Guide to Texas Motorcycle Laws
Now that we’ve covered the turn signal laws, let’s do a thorough rundown on the basics of riding legally in Texas. These rules and regulations are fairly boilerplate, but this is worth doing to ensure your fundamental checklist is complete.
Is a Motorcycle License Required in Texas?
In order to operate a motorcycle in Texas, you must be 16 or older and have a Class M driver’s license, plus you’ll have to have passed a Basic Motorcycle Training Course. That course, which includes both a written exam and a road test, must be approved by the Department of Public Safety.
If you don’t have a Class M license, there are other ways to hit the road with your Harley. Drivers who already have a Class A, B, or C license can obtain a Motorcycle Endorsement by using either an MSB-8 completion certificate or a completion card showing that they’ve taken the required coursework.
That course must meet the Motorcycle Safety Foundation standards for curriculum, but courses for this level of certification are common and easy to find.
Do You Have to Wear a Helmet While Riding a Motorcycle in Texas?
Many riders will be surprised to learn that helmets aren’t required for those over 21. Although technically legal, this is risky behavior, and you should always wear a helmet to protect yourself on the road. Harley-Davidson and other motorcycle manufacturers devote considerable effort to educating the public about the need for helmets, not to mention covering the basics when it comes to full and partial face shields and the protection they provide.
Ignore these laws at your own peril, but if you have a younger passenger, make sure that person is wearing a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Can a 16-Year-Old Drive a Motorcycle in Texas?
Everyone knows that 16 is the age most teenagers start driving cars, but many do not understand that when you hit the road with your Harley, you’ll likely be sharing it with some very young riders as well. Teenagers as young as 16 can get a motorcycle operator license in Texas, and while most of them will be qualified, competent riders, this fact is definitely something to keep in mind if you’re going to ride regularly.
On the topic of age requirements, it’s important to note that you can’t have passengers under the age of five, so be sure to keep that in mind as well.
Is Lane Splitting on a Motorcycle Legal in Texas?
No rundown on the basics would be complete without mentioning lane splitting, which is the tactic motorcyclists use to advance in traffic by riding on the white dashed lines between two lanes of traffic.
Although there is no law or Texas transportation code that explicitly mentions lane splitting, Texas law states that all road users must remain within a single lane and only change lanes when it is safe to do so—essentially making it illegal.
Regardless of whether or not it’s legal, lane splitting is a dangerous practice that increases the risk of car accidents for motorcyclists and drivers alike.
What Is Required for a Motorcycle to Pass Inspection in Texas?
Lastly, let’s talk about the equipment you’ll need. Even if you choose to forego turn signals in Texas, your Harley will need to be equipped with some basic equipment in order to meet minimum legal safety requirements and pass a Texas motorcycle inspection. This equipment includes:
- Tail Lamp
- Stop Lamp
- License Plate Lamp
- Rear Red Reflector
- Head Lamp
- Exhaust System
- Wheel Assembly
Your braking system will have to be operational, of course, and you’ll need a legal motor, serial, or vehicle identification number (VIN), as well.
Get Road Ready with Harley-Davidson of Kingwood
All of this is standard equipment, but if you want to verify your checklist and make sure your bike is up to date on the latest safety features—not to mention the latest Harley-Davidson accessories—stop in at Harley-Davidson of Kingwood to speak to our team of Harley experts.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your Harley, needing advice about motorcycle turn signal laws in Texas, or preparing for your motorcycle license test, our team is here to help. Come shop our showroom of new and pre-owned Harley motorcycles, take the newest model out for a test ride, or sign up for the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy today at your local Harley-Davidson dealership on Northpines Drive in Kingwood!
Harley Davidson of Kingwood
Harley-Davidson of Kingwood is your #1 Texas Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealer. Our full-service facility offers new and pre-owned motorcycles, parts, maintenance, riding apparel, and everything else you need to get your Hog on the road. As a winner of the Harley-Davidson Gold Bar & Shield Circle of Excellence, we’re committed to providing top-notch customer service every day of the week. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of Kingwood Showroom on Northpines Drive in Kingwood, TX!