The Five Laws California Motorcyclists Need to Know

Motorcycle fatalities and serious injuries in California are a significant public safety issue in the state. In California’s 2015 Annual Performance Report from the California Office of Traffic Safety, statistics showed that motorcycle fatalities and injuries have been on an upward trend.

While the OTS goal was to reduce motorcyclist fatalities by 25 percent from the 2008-2012 five-year moving average, motorcyclist fatalities actually increased 20.4 percent from the five-year average of 431 to 519 fatalities.

This troubling jump in fatalities has been occurring nationwide, as motorcycle fatalities on U.S. roads rose 10% in 2015. California is making improvements, however, as motorcycle deaths did fall by 7% during the same year, but the state’s large motorcycle population still ensured that those deaths were second only to Florida.

Here are the five laws California motorcyclists need to know in an effort to be as safe as possible on California roads.

California Law Requires the Use of Turn Signals

Any motorcycle built and registered after 1973 is required by law to have functioning front and rear turn signals. The sole exception to this law is old motorcycles that were built before 1973, which are exempt from the law.

Exhaust Systems Must Comply With State Law

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was still serving as California Governor, he enacted the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act that officially took effect in 2013. This Act gave California law enforcement the legal authority to ticket any motorcycle that does not comply with the law’s exhaust systems.

As with the turn signal law, however, this law only applies to motorcycles that were built in 2013 or later. Older bikes that use aftermarket systems and were purchased prior to the law’s taking effect in 2013 are exempt.

California Age Restrictions for Motorcycles

A motorcycle license in California requires that the following criteria be met:

  • Driver’s education and training course must be completed
  • Motorcycle rider training course must be completed
  • A rider must be at least 16 years of age

There are no set laws, however, for the age of a motorcycle passenger. That said, the California Vehicle Code does stipulate that all motorcycle passengers must have a seat that provides footrests and is “securely fastened to the machine at the rear of the driver.” Motorcyclists who wish to take their child on a ride as a passenger may need to modify or move the footrests or purchase a special seat designed to accommodate the child’s height and size.

Lane Splitting Is Now Legal

In 2016, California became the first state to legalize lane splitting, which is the term referencing a motorcyclist driving between two vehicle lanes. California motorcyclists are still required to lane split in a safe manner that is responsible.

Even when motorcyclists follow these laws safely and responsibly, however, there are no guarantees that other drivers on the road will obey the law. Speeding, distracted driving and driving under the influence are all factors that are beyond a motorcyclist’s control when negligent parties choose to make poor choices that can harm others.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, you need a motorcycle accident attorney in California who will help you get the compensation you deserve. The Ledger Law Firm has years of experience representing California motorcycle accident victims and will make sure your legal rights are protected if your accident was caused by another’s legal wrongdoing.

Contact us online for a legal consultation with a California motorcycle accident lawyer who will protect your legal rights.