Motorcycle Rules of the Road

Before you head out on your next road trip, make sure you take some time to review the motorcycle rules of the road, especially if you are crossing a state line. The motorcycle rules of the road differ from state to state, and what is acceptable in one state may be a problem the next one over. Because the consequences of poor knowledge about motorcycle operations and safety can be quite significant, any motorcycle rider should study up on motorcycle rules of the road and be extremely educated about safety.

Here are 10 rules of the road that you’ll need to become familiar with as you take your motorcycle around your own state and across state lines.

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  1. Eye protection: Eye protection depends on the state, where places like Minnesota require them at all times yet in South Carolina, they are required for anyone under age 21 unless the motorcycle has a windscreen.
  2. Helmet: You may think that every state absolutely requires a helmet, but in fact, there’s a range of allowances. States like California, Nebraska and Virginia require everyone to wear helmets, while states like Utah, Oklahoma and Delaware require helmets for those 18 and under. A few states don’t even have any helmet laws, like Colorado and Illinois.
  3. Riding two abreast: All states allow motorcycles to ride two abreast in a single lane, as long as both riders consent.
  4. Lane splitting: California allows motorcycles to drive between lanes when the traffic is slow, but states like Alabama and Texas have laws prohibiting it.
  5. Turn signals: Not required in states like Idaho and New Mexico, but in some states, like Kansas and Oregon, they are required for bikes made after 1973.
  6. Passenger age restrictions: Some states, like Nevada and Mississippi, there are no passenger age restrictions. Other states do have restrictions, like Arkansas, which restricts anyone younger than 8 years old.
  7.  Left or right mirrors: Some states, like Kentucky, require only a left mirror, while states like Massachusetts just require one on either side. Other states like Maryland and Illinois require both by law.
  8.  Radar detector: Most states don’t have restrictions on radar detectors on motorcycles, but a few, like Virginia and the District of Columbia, prohibit their use.
  9.  Helmet speakers: Maryland law allows only a single helmet speaker earphone, while states like Massachusetts prohibit them altogether. Other states, like Michigan and      New Mexico, have no restrictions on helmet speakers.
  10.  Daytime use of headlight: Most states permit modulating headlights, but a few, including Mississippi and Rhode Island, have no requirements or restrictions. Other states, like Oregon and Tennessee, require it by law.

Each state’s rules of the road are designed to keep motorcyclists and others safe from accidents. Because riding motorcycles is much more dangerous than driving a car, it’s important for motorcyclists to be well educated in the different laws regarding safety. In order to avoid becoming an accident statistic, learn all you can about the motorcycle rules of the road in your area.

When planning a trip across state lines, take the time to learn the rules of that state to avoid a run-in with the law, or worse, an accident.

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