California could be the best place in America to ride a motorcycle. Some of the most beautiful rides in the country run along California’s state and interstate highway systems, and the weather is often cooperative for riders. Making the most of your motorcycle means knowing California’s laws and what to do if you’re in an accident.
If you ride a motorcycle, California law requires you to obey all the laws that apply to any other type of motor vehicle. In addition, there are specific laws that apply only to motorcycles and robust regulations designed to protect cyclists. If you’re involved in an accident, be sure to get a Sacramento motorcycle accident attorney to help you defend your rights.
Whether you’re driving or riding, you must wear a helmet at all times while the motorcycle is in operation. The helmet must meet the safety standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As for your motorcycle itself, it must have mirrors on both the left and right, and the handlebars cannot place the driver’s hands more than six inches above shoulder height. All motorcycles need to have working turn signals in the front and back (unless they were made before 1973), and any cycle from 2013 on must have the right exhaust system.
In California, it is entirely legal for a motorcyclist to split between two lanes of traffic in order to get around stopped or slow cars. Drivers of cars and trucks are not allowed to open the doors of their vehicle in the road unless it is safe to do so and doesn’t interfere with traffic. It’s still always important to be extra cautious when lane splitting, however.
Lane sharing among two motorcyclists is not specifically permitted, but there are no regulations or laws that prohibit the practice. There are also no age restrictions on passengers; however there must be a seat for the passenger, it must be secured to the motorcycle behind the driver’s seat, and there must be a footrest for anyone riding with you.
Getting a license
No matter how long you’ve been driving cars, you must get a motorcycle learner’s permit before you can move to a full motorcycle license. To get this permit, you’ll need to pass the skills test, take a knowledge test on the California Motorcycle Handbook, and pass an eye exam.
If you are under 21, you will also need to pass a state safety program run by the California Highway Patrol. Learner’s permits are valid for a year, and until you have your full license, you won’t be allowed to carry passengers, ride at night, or use your bike on a freeway.
Motorcycle accidents are usually more devastating for riders than for people encased in a car or truck, and motorcycles are more likely to slip in poor weather than a four-wheeled vehicle. As a result, carrying insurance isn’t just required by law: it’s the smart thing to do, too.
In California, in addition to insurance that covers you and your bike, you must also have a minimum of $5,000 property damage, $15,000 for injury to one individual, and at least $30,000 for injury to multiple people. Your license will be suspended for a year if you get in an accident and do not have the proper insurance. You may also be more vulnerable to lawsuits.
Always carry sufficient insurance to cover you and others, and if you get into an accident be sure to contact accident lawyers who know the law and will work to get you the compensation you need.