Important California Motorcycle Laws to Know

Important California Motorcycle Laws to Know

California’s motorcycle laws help minimize the occurrence of collisions and their consequences.

This includes licensing, helmets, insurance and traffic laws. However, even in a state with strict regulations for owning and operating a motorcycle, accidents happen. The results can be devastating. If you suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident in San Bernardino, California, the attorneys at LA Century Law can help.

What Are the California Motorcycle Laws for Licensing and Insurance?

Individuals wishing to own and operate a motorcycle must adhere to motorcycle requirements in California, including licensing and equipment regulations. To obtain a motorcycle license in California, riders must possess a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement called M1. Alternatively, they can obtain a separate motorcycle-only license designated as M2.

In addition to the rider’s license, the motorcycle must have an official registration and insurance.

To combat noise pollution, all motorcycles must have a functioning muffler. As well, those who venture out during nighttime or low-visibility conditions must have properly working lights. This regulation ensures safety for the motorcycle rider and everyone on the road.

Motorcycle insurance requirements in California

California motorcycle insurance laws mandate that all riders secure insurance coverage before registering their motorcycle with the state and using it on public roads. The primary objective behind these regulations is to ensure motorcyclists are financially accountable for any damages they inflict upon others. To meet the state’s minimum requirements, riders must adhere to the following liability coverage standards:

  • Bodily injury per person protection at a minimum of $15,000
  • Total bodily injury per accident protection of at least $30,000
  • Property damage per accident coverage at a minimum of $5,000

By enforcing these stipulations, California can protect citizens from potential financial hardships resulting from motorcycle-related accidents where the rider is at fault for the crash. Failure to maintain coverage will result in penalties, including fines and possible loss of licensing.

Can Riders Lane Split Under California Law?

According to California motorcycle laws, lane splitting is legal, a unique exception among the states. The state recognizes the potential benefits of this practice but urges caution. Lane splitting, often known as lane sharing or lane filtering, refers to a motorcyclist riding between lanes of slow-moving or stationary vehicles, usually on highways or multi-lane roads. This maneuver allows riders to navigate through congested traffic more quickly, reducing the congestion.

However, lane splitting carries inherent risks. The proximity to other vehicles increases the chances of collisions. Motorists in cars may not anticipate a motorcycle moving between lanes.

Even though it is legal in California, the practice is not universally recommended due to the associated dangers. Riders should remain vigilant, and drivers of larger vehicles should always check their mirrors and blind spots, especially in congested, slow-moving traffic.

Does California Have a Helmet Law?

Under California motorcycle laws, every rider and passenger on a motorcycle must wear a safety helmet that complies with the U.S. DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. The manufacturer must certify this compliance, reflecting the helmet’s adherence to established safety standards. Proper helmet usage significantly diminishes the risk of severe and fatal head injuries, which unfortunately make up the majority of serious motorcyclist injuries.

Non-compliant helmets often possess thin liners and lack adequate protective padding, rendering them less effective during collisions. Though they may have a similar appearance to compliant helmets, vendors sell them as novelty helmets or under names like rain bonnets, loophole lids or brain buckets. Always verify the U.S. DOT certification before purchasing a helmet.

Other laws for passengers

In addition to the helmet laws for passengers, California requires every motorcycle to have a seat securely fastened to the machine to carry a passenger. They must have footrests and use them while the motorcycle is in motion. Currently, there are no laws restricting the age of motorcycle passengers.

What Other Motorcycle Requirements in California Promote Safety?

Motorcyclists must adhere to the same traffic laws as everyone else. The purpose is to hold a duty of care owed to other drivers and protect themselves from potential harm. Abiding by these laws, in addition to motorcycle laws, also requires riders to drive defensively. Most motorcycle accidents are the result of blind spots in other vehicles, so constant awareness of surrounding traffic is vital.

What Should You Do After a Motorcycle Collision?

Motorcycle accidents are among the most deadly and severe types of auto accident cases. In the unfortunate event of a motorcycle accident, you can take immediate steps to ensure personal safety and navigate the post-accident legal procedures more efficiently. Clarity of action is essential during these moments.

If you are physically able, in the immediate aftermath of a crash and according to the standards of California motorcycle laws, you should:

  1. Prioritize safety. Move away from the roadway to prevent further injury from oncoming traffic. If you suffer severe injuries, stay put and wait for assistance.
  2. Contact authorities. Dial emergency services immediately. Even if injuries seem minor, an official report can be valuable for insurance and potential legal claims.
  3. Seek medical attention. Always get checked by medical professionals following an accident. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and a medical report is critical evidence for a personal injury claim.
  4. Document the scene. If possible, take photographs of the accident scene, damages and any visible injuries you sustained. Collect the contact information of any witnesses as well.
  5. Notify your insurance. Report the accident to your insurance provider promptly to initiate the claims process.

If someone else is liable for the accident, they are also responsible for any damages you sustained from the crash. If you know the other party caused the accident, consult an experienced motorcycle accident attorney before filing an insurance claim. They can help you identify the appropriate steps to take and strive to maximize the recoverable damages in your case.

Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in San Bernardino

If you suffered an injury on a motorcycle or have questions about California motorcycle laws, the attorneys at LA Century Law can help. We are constantly reminded how motorcycle accidents can have devastating physical, emotional and financial consequences for the victims and their families. At LA Century Law in San Bernardino, we understand the severity of these accidents and the need for fast action. Contact us today by phone or online to schedule your free consultation and take the first steps in recovering your losses and rebuilding your life.

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