You’ve seen the bumper stickers that scream, “Look twice, save a life!” And you’ve heard disgruntled drivers mutter about motorcyclists that don’t help themselves by swerving dangerously all over the road. It’s often a controversial topic, but the fact is that thousands of injuries and fatalities involving motorcycle accidents occur in California alone, not to mention the rest of the world.
When you drive a motorcycle, you have to follow state-specific laws. Many of these laws are the same ones that every driver must adhere to, but some are only for motorcycles. These laws have been created to protect everyone on the road, but when you don’t know the laws, you can put yourself and others in danger.
The attorneys at Hershey Law see hundreds of cases every year in which people’s lives have been changed forever from motorcycle accidents. Knowing the laws and ensuring that you follow them, whether you are a motorcyclist or a standard vehicle driver, can help you prevent collisions while you are in the driver’s seat.
Here is everything you need to know on what it takes to legally operate a motorcycle in California and what to do if you are involved in an accident with a motorcyclist.
Obtaining a motorcycle license in California isn’t as simple as getting your regular driving license. There’s a lot of prep involved, especially if you are under the age of 21. Anyone looking to apply for a motorcycle license must:
For riders under 21, the requirements are even stricter. They must do all of the above as well as:
Permits are only valid for 12 months from the date of issue, so it is important that the drivers demonstrate proficiency quickly. Permits aren’t the same thing as a license, since motorcycle operators who only have a permit are not allowed to carry passengers, drive on freeways, or drive at night. These limitations prevent novice drivers from engaging in risky scenarios that could cause danger to themselves and others.
Another law that is often misunderstood is that of safety equipment usage with motorcyclists. Some states allow motorcycle operators to choose for themselves whether or not they use a helmet and other forms of safety equipment, but California’s regulations are strict and clear. The following safety regulations are required for all motorcycle operators in California, regardless of your home state:
In addition to the laws that are in place just to get your motorcycle on the road, there are safety precautions that must be adhered when you are actually driving. These rules aren’t just for motorcyclists, though – standard passenger vehicles should know them in order to ride safely alongside motorcycles.
You may frequently hear complaints from drivers when a motorcyclist goes around vehicles by moving between two lanes of traffic, and, while often annoying, this practice, called lane splitting, is legal in California. CVC 22400 and CVC 22517 help improve the safety of everyone on the road while lane splitting is occurring.
CVC 22400 is in place to prohibit any motorist from driving at speeds that are too slow for reasonable traffic and CVC 22517 makes the act of opening and leaving open vehicle doors illegal unless the door opening doesn’t interfere with traffic.
Lane sharing, in which two motorcyclists ride next to each other in one lane, is not restricted, although it is considered to be unnecessarily dangerous by many people.
Liability insurance minimums include $5000 for property damage, $15,000 for individual bodily injury, and $30,000 for multiple victim bodily injury. Personal injuries when motorcycles are involved frequently run from moderate to severe, so it’s crucial that a motorcyclist carries at least the minimum amount of insurance.
Since so many motorcycle fatalities and injuries occur in California, it’s not surprising that Hershey Law attorneys file multiple personal injury claims every year for accidents involving motorcycles. Statistics show that California’s death toll from motorcycle collisions increased 11% from 2015 to 2016 and continue to rise.
If you are involved in an accident involving a motorcycle, there are some basic steps you need to take to ensure your rights are protected. Any accident is nerve wracking, but when a motorcycle is involved, it can be extra scary. With the high potential for serious or fatal injuries, it’s important that you keep your head and follow these steps:
Avoid a drawn-out conversation with your adjuster, no matter how friendly they are, since they are trained in finding ways to limit or deny your claim by using what you say against you. Instead, report your accident and then let your attorney communicate with any insurance matters from there.
Unless you are in the hospital and unable to call your insurance company, this is one of those red tape issues that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. In addition to this deadline, though, there are many others that you should be mindful of. If you choose to file a lawsuit, these deadlines will be important to your success.
Get medical help as soon as possible, follow up with your doctor’s recommendations, and contact your insurance company timely. Once you have completed those few steps, contact Hershey Law for your free consultation to ensure that you are doing everything you should be doing to protect your rights.