State Laws and 2-Wheel Vehicles

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riding a motorcycle

Did you know that motorcycles have been around for over 100 years? They first emerged in 1867 when Sylvester Howard Roper, who also invented the steam car, designed a version of the motorcycle. The first version of the motorcycle was a coal-fired steam engine and was called a “velocipede.”

Since then, motorcycles have become one of the greatest pastimes for people throughout the world. There are so many different kinds of motorcycles, and so many different things you can do with them. There are motorcycles made for long, comfortable travel, there are motorcycles made for speed and agility, and there are motorcycles designed to be used as an everyday vehicle.

Although there are many different kinds of motorcycles, they all fall under the same laws and jurisdictions. The American Motorcyclist Association puts out the laws, regulations, events, and even some products exclusively for motorcyclists. If you ride a motorcycle and want to check in on the laws or want to know of a motorcycle event near you, the American Motorcyclist Association is who you would check with.

Riding motorcycles is a passion of many different people. If you love riding your bike, make sure you know all the laws that apply to motorcycles in your state. That way, you can be safe and prepared.

Motorcycle Laws

Laws surrounding motorcycles and two-wheel vehicles can be found with the American Motorcyclist Association State Laws Database. The laws differ from state to state, so you want to make sure you look at the laws for the state that you live in.

Only 19 states and the District of Columbia require motorcyclists to wear a safety helmet while riding their bikes. For example, motorcycle helmet laws vary widely from state to state. In Kansas, it is required by law that anybody under the age of 18 wear a safety helmet while riding a motorcycle. In the state of Louisiana, it is state law that all motorcyclists wear a helmet at all times when riding their bike. In Illinois, it is not required for bikers to wear a safety helmet while riding a motorcycle.

However, even though it is not a law it is still important to wear a helmet. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, in 2015, the number of deaths on motorcycles was almost 29 times greater than the number of deaths in cars.

Furthermore, it has been shown that wearing a safety helmet while riding a motorcycle is 67% likely to prevent brain damage during an accident. Even though it is not a law in every state, if you are riding a motorcycle, you should wear a helmet. Importantly, if you have a passenger with you on your motorcycle, they should definitely have a helmet too.

While the laws themselves vary from state to state, the basic categories of motorcycles laws are the same. Here are the different kinds of laws covered by the American Motorcyclist Association:

On Road Laws:

  • Accept Motorcycle Endorsement from Other States
  • Accept RiderEd Completion Card from Other States
  • Daytime Use of Headlight
  • Eye Protection
  • Handlebar height
  • Helmet Speakers
  • Lane Splitting
  • Lemon Law Coverage
  • Maximum Sound Level
  • Mirrors (left and right)
  • Motorcycles operating two abreast in same lane
  • Muffler
  • Passenger Age Restriction
  • Passenger Footrest
  • Passenger seat
  • Periodic Safety Inspection
  • Radar Detector
  • Rider Education
  • Rider-Education Waiver
  • Safety Helmet
  • State Insurance Requirements
  • Traffic Actuated Signals
  • Turn Signals

Off Road Laws:

  • Eye Protection
  • Headlight
  • Maximum Sound Level
  • Minimum Operator Age
  • Muffler
  • Operator License
  • Registration
  • Rider Education Certification
  • Safety Helmet
  • Spark Arrestor
  • Taillight
  • Trails Program
  • Vehicle Title

Remember, just because something is a law in one state, does not mean that the same law will apply in another state. If you are traveling, make sure you are well-versed in the different laws that are enforced in the places you are traveling to, or through.

Do the American Motorcyclist Association Laws Apply Just to Motorcycles?

The laws of the American Motorcyclist Association apply to all two-wheel vehicles. This includes all of the different kinds of motorcycles. When it comes to motorcycles, there are scooters, sport bikes, touring bikes, dual-sport bikes, cruisers, and much more.

Even though these different two-wheel vehicles may look and function differently, they still are required to follow the laws of the American Motorcyclist Association.

If you have a motorcycle and enjoy riding it, make sure you know what laws are enforced in your state. Respecting the laws of the American Motorcyclist Association help ensure that your motorcycle license won’t be taken away, and that you, and other bikers and cars around you, are safe on the road.

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