September 16, 2019

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New York Motorcycle Laws and Regulations

NY Motorcycle Laws

Riding on motorcycle can be a fun and rewarding experience. Although, before you hit the road, it is important to know your State’s motorcycle laws, and to keep some important safety tips in mind.

Motorcycle Laws

  1. Motorcycle Equipment Requirements:
    1. Motorcycles manufactured after 1971 must have a braking system on both wheels and be able to stop within 25 feet if traveling 20 mph.
    2. Tires must be in good condition and in good working order.
    3. Motorcycle windshields must be approved for highway use.
    4. Your motorcycle must have a working muffler (you may not modify your muffler).
    5. Your motorcycle must have a horn.
    6. Your motorcycle must have at least one rearview mirror.
    7. Your motorcycle’s handlebars cannot be above your shoulders when you ride.
    8. Your motorcycle must have a speedometer if it was manufactured after 1980.
    9. You motorcycle needs to have one red brake light.
    10. Your motorcycle must have a red tail light that is visible from 300 feet away, and be on whenever the motorcycle is in operation.
    11. Your motorcycle must have white license plate lights that make it visible from 50 feet away.
    12. Your motorcycle must have turn signals, if it was manufactured after 1985. The turn signal lights must be amber on the front, and red on the back.
    13. Your motorcycle must have one headlamp that is white or amber, and must have two headlamps if your motorcycle has a sidecar. This headlight must be on during motorcycle operation.
    14. If you carry a passenger on the back of your motorcycle, your motorcycle must be designed to carry passengers. This means that your motorcycle is fitted with a passenger seat and passenger footrests.
  2. Rider and Passenger Equipment Requirements
    1. All riders and passengers must wear a helmet that is approved by the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
    2. All riders and passengers must wear eye protection that is approved by the American National Standard Institute.
    3. Rider and passenger helmets can only have one earphone.
  3. Licensing Laws
    1. You need a class M license or a motorcycle endorsement on your license to have full access to motorcycle operation.
    2. You must be 21 or older to obtain a motorcycle permit.
    3. Permit riders may only ride their motorcycle under the immediate supervision of a licensed motorcycle operator who cannot be farther than one-quarter of a mile away from the permit rider when they are riding.
  4. Insurance Requirements
    1. $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person.
    2. $50,000 for total bodily injury if multiple people are involved in a crash.
    3. $50,000 death coverage per person.
    4. $100,000 if there was more than one death in a single crash.
    5. $10,000 of property damage coverage.
  5. Other Laws
    1. Your motorcycle is subject to an annual safety inspection.
    2. Two motorcycles may ride abreast in a single lane.
    3. Riding on the lane division line between two lanes of traffic or “lane splitting” is illegal.

Safety Tips

  • Become comfortable with your motorcycle before you start using it regularly. Most motorcycle crashes happen within five miles of where the motorcycle was started. This is because many beginner riders do not take the time to “break in” their motorcycles before they ride. Taking a Motorcycle Education Course would be a great way to sharpen your skills and get used to your motorcycle. Although, taking a few hours to practice in an empty parking lot will help too. It might also be a good idea to learn basic motorcycle maintenance, just so you have a basic idea about how your motorcycle operates.
  • Prepare for the what the road has to offer before you ride. In other words, you should dress in clothing that is durable, will keep you warm, and that will protect you from debris and from damage if you slide your motorcycle. There are certain motorcycle companies that manufacture clothing with built-in armor that will help to protect you when you ride, but a leather jacket and jeans will work too. Wear heavy boots that come up above your ankle. This will make it easier to shift and could save you from having a broken foot bone if you crash. Make sure that your helmet fits snuggly onto your head and that it covers your head completely to provide the most amount of protection. You may also want to wear gloves, this is more of an issue of comfort than safety, but having stiff cold hands is common with motorcyclists that don’t wear gloves.
  • Buy more than just the minimum amount of insurance. Even the most seasoned riders crash their motorcycles every once in awhile. If you do crash your motorcycle (or if it becomes damaged in general) then you could find yourself in a bad situation if you do not have adequate coverage. You should consider the following coverages in your policy:
    • Liability coverage. This will provide financial coverage if you are found liable in certain crashes, and should be considered a necessity.
    • Uninsured motorist coverage. This will pay for medical and damage costs if you are involved in a crash with someone whose insurance does not exist or won’t pay for all of your damages.
    • Comprehensive coverage. This coverage will pay for damages that weren’t caused by a crash with another vehicle. For example, if your motorcycle was damaged by a hail storm, or if it was stolen, then comprehensive coverage would compensate you.
    • Roadside assistance. This coverage is for riders who are planning on going for a long road trip. Even if you know how to fix your own motorcycle, this coverage is still very helpful. Besides, fixing your motorcycle on the side of the road with limited tools just doesn’t sound like much fun.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact a New York attorney.

Additional Resources

About Zac Pingle

Zac Pingle was born in Florida, and grew up in several places across the United States. From a young age, Zac developed a taste for writing, reading under trees and getting into trouble. Currently, Zac resides in Oregon as a college student where he aspires to become an English professor.