Riding a motorcycle on an open California road can give the rider a sense of exhilaration and total freedom. Although motorcycle riders may feel like they own the road, they have to follow the same rules of the road that drivers of cars and trucks have to follow.
Motorcyclists also have to follow laws pertaining specifically to driving motorcycles. These laws aren’t meant to take the fun out of driving a motorcycle. They are meant to protect motorcyclists and the other drivers they share the road with. Following these laws can help reduce the risk of motorcycle riders being involved in a serious accident that could cause injuries or death.
Motorcycle Licensing Laws
To obtain a motorcycle license, you must be at least 16 years old and you will need to take a vision test, written test and driving test. Riders under the age of 21 are required to complete the California Highway Patrol’s Basic Rider Course. It’s a good idea for riders over 21 to complete this course as well, but they have the option of completing a skills test in order to be exempt from taking it.
All motorcycle riders have to obtain a learner’s permit before applying for a license. Riders under the age of 18 must have a permit for at least six months before they can apply for a license. A rider with a learner’s permit is prohibited from:
- Driving at night
- Driving on the freeway
- Carrying passengers
Motorcycle Safety Laws
Helmets are required for both motorcycle drivers and riders in California at all times and they must be in compliance with standards set by the United States Department of Transportation. A daytime headlight should be used to improve visibility in traffic unless the vehicle was manufactured before 1978. After sunset, headlights are mandatory on all motorcycles.
When the driver is seated, handlebars can be no more than six inches above the height of the driver’s shoulders. Working turn signals are required in both back and front. A mirror is required on the right and the left. If a passenger is riding, footrests and seats are required. Riders are permitted to wear earplugs as long as they can still hear sirens or horns.
Lane Splitting and Lane Sharing
Lane splitting is when a motorcycle maneuvers between two lanes of slow or stopped traffic. This is legal in California, and even though it appears to be dangerous, it prevents motorcycles from being sandwiched between cars and reduces the amounts of toxic exhaust fumes they inhale.
Lane sharing is when two vehicles are traveling side by side in the same direction and in the same lane. It can be done by two motorcycles or by a motorcycle and car. This can be done on big roads that have at least two lanes heading in the same direction.
Vehicle accidents happen with all types of vehicles including motorcycles, but motorcycle riders are much more vulnerable to sustaining serious injuries if an accident occurs. Motorcycle riders have to be alert to sudden moves by cars and to drivers that drive aggressively and tailgate motorcycles or try to cut them off.
No matter how careful you are, you may end up being injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence of another driver. If this happens to you, your injuries may be very serious. An expert personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve, which may include lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. To find out how we can help you, contact Kuvara Law Firm using the form on this page and one of our lawyers will get back to you soon.