Motorcycle vs. Vehicle Traffic Laws – What’s the Difference?

by Ladyblogger on June 4, 2013

Although motorcycle and passenger vehicles occupy the same roads, they do not always have to follow the same laws. To further complicate matters, each state can set its own guidelines about things such as mandatory helmet usage. Therefore, it is imperative for motorcyclists to stay up to date on all of the applicable laws in any area that they visit.

How do Motorcycle and Passenger Vehicle Laws Vary?

1. There are no Seat Belts on a Bike – The most notable difference in the law between cars and bikes is caused by the design of motorcycles. After all, there is no way to properly mount a seat belt onto a bike, so it would be impossible to make a law that dictates that motorcyclists must wear one.

2. Helmet Laws – Most states require motorcyclists to wear a helmet. For example, in North Carolina the driver and any passengers on a motorcycle have to wear a helmet at all times, otherwise you’ll end up needing a North Carolina traffic ticket attorney. This is the closest safety equivalent to seat belt usage, and it is mandatory for at least some motorcyclists to wear them in every state except for Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire.

3. Lane Splitting – Several countries allow motorcyclists to engage in the practice of lane splitting, and bikers in California can also take advantage of this time saving technique. The basic idea is that small motorcycles are able to navigate between the middle of two rows of traffic if the passenger vehicles are going less than 10 miles per hour. Although California does not have any specific laws on the books that permit or forbid motorcyclists from using lane splitting, it is generally accepted in high traffic areas. However, it is important to note that lane splitting is illegal in many other states. Some areas, including North Carolina, have vague laws on the books that could be held against a person who engages in lane splitting, but there is no law that mentions this specific activity.

4. Licensing Requirements – It is illegal to operate a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle without the proper license. However, you cannot legally drive a motorcycle if you only possess a standard driver’s license. Therefore, you need to pass the necessary tests to get both licenses before you can begin switching between your car and your motorcycle.

5. Age Restrictions – The minimum age for driving a passenger vehicle in the U.S. varies from 14 to 17 years old, but there is no state that allows people to apply for a motorcycle license before the age of 16. New Jersey requires motorcyclists to be 18 before they can apply, but most areas will let drivers start the process at the age of 16 with the permission of a parent or legal guardian.

6. Two Motorcycles per Lane – It is a standard practice to let two motorcyclists ride abreast in the same lane. For obvious reasons, this would never be permitted for passenger vehicles. Many motorcyclists prefer to ride this way because it makes them more visible, and it also helps keep the speed of traffic moving more smoothly.

If you receive a traffic ticket while you are on a motorcycle, it is important to consider discussing the situation with an attorney. After all, motorcycle laws can be extremely vague, and it is possible that you could get the ticket overturned with a skilled lawyer on your side.

Author Anthony Joseph continues to write about laws and how they affect us. After a traffic violation, a North Carolina traffic ticket attorney from the firm of Powers McCartan, knows how to minimize your offense and keep you protected. They were named best lawyers in 2013, and they volunteer a great deal in their community as well.

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