NYC Motorcycle Laws

Motorcycles can offer a great transportation option in New York. During fair weather, a motorcycle can provide a fast convenient way to get through the city or an escape from life’s busy schedule. In a city famous for crowded streets, a motorcycle is a fun compact vehicle with great gas mileage and simple parking methods. For an entirely different experience, New York’s country roads offer breathtaking scenery that begs for long afternoons spent on a motorcycle. The beauty of a scenic tour through the Adirondacks or the Catskills is greatly enhanced by the open-air freedom of your bike. However, as most motorcycle owners are aware, motorcycles come with their own set of serious dangers. That’s why special laws have been enacted for motorcyclists to provide additional safety and help prevent serious injury.

What Is the New York Motorcycle Helmet Law?

The New York motorcycle helmet law may be the most important law regarding motorcycles. It’s the law most likely to save your life in the event of an accident. According to the Center for Disease Control Motorcycle Safety Report, helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% and reduce head injuries by 69% in an accident. An estimated 1,859 lives were saved by helmet use in 2016 alone. New York lawmakers take these numbers seriously and provide motorcyclists with the safest laws possible.

New York motorcycle helmet law states that “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a protective helmet of a type which meets the requirements set forth in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards.” This means all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear a DOT-approved helmet, no matter their age or experience level. 

You can get a traffic ticket if you are caught operating a motorcycle without a helmet.

Additional Accessories

Besides wearing an approved helmet, New York motorcycle laws require riders to protect their eyes. All riders must wear eyewear that meets the standards of the American National Standard Institute. This can be accomplished with an approved face shield that is attached to your helmet or approved goggles. Speakers are allowed in your helmet, but only with one earphone.

NYS Roadway Regulations for Motorcycle Laws

Motorcyclists adhere to many of the same rules of the road as drivers in all other vehicles. However, due to the smaller size of motorcycles, some additional laws are required for safety.

These laws must be followed by New York motorcyclists. 

  • Lane splitting (the act of moving between vehicle lanes going in the same direction) is prohibited. This includes passing slow or stopped traffic, and weaving in and out between lanes.
  • Headlight must be used at all times, including daytime driving.
  • A maximum of two motorcycles are allowed to share a lane (ride side by side).
  • If a passenger is on the motorcycle, a passenger seat and footrest is required.

You can be issued a motorcycle ticket for these offenses which carry a fine (and possibly points).

Motorcycle Equipment Requirements

Driving any type of vehicle on crowded roads takes considerable concentration. Drivers must divide their attention between road signs, traffic lights, and multiple different types of automobiles on the road. Unfortunately, crowded highways make motorcycles easy to miss. Since they are smaller than all other vehicles on the road, motorcycles are easy to overlook or can even become completely invisible in a driver’s blind spot. On top of the action provided by congested highways, today’s drivers are more distracted than ever. Besides distractions provided by passengers and action inside the car, many drivers admit to using a cell phone while driving. A driver who sends a text while driving at 55 miles per hour is ignoring the road while driving the length of an entire football field. As a motorcycle driver, Increasing your visibility is the best way to practice defensive driving.

Outside of the roadway laws and rider requirements, there are some additional New York motorcycle laws outlined by the New York State Department Of Health surrounding the equipment necessary for your motorcycle. These laws help riders in many ways including added visibility. New York motorcycle laws require your motorcycle to be equipped with the following things.

  • Lights – A headlight, taillight, brake light, and license plate lamp are required.
  • At least one red rear reflector is required.
  • A horn or other warning device must be on the motorcycle.
  • At least one rearview mirror is required. However, it’s strongly recommended that you have one on each handlebar.
  • You must have brakes on both wheels if the bike was manufactured after 1971.
  • Directional and turn signals are required on motorcycles manufactured after 1985.
  • A motorcycle manufactured after 1980 must be equipped with a working speedometer with the ability to calculate speed in miles per hour.
  • Mufflers are required. (Cutouts or mufflers with removable baffles aren’t allowed.)
  • Handlebars or grips must not exceed the shoulder height of the driver.
  • If a motorcycle has a windscreen, it must be permanently labeled by the manufacturer to prove suitability for highway use.

Do You Need a New York Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?

You might think that because it’s obvious you were gravely injured in a motorcycle accident that you don’t need a lawyer. After all, the damage is obvious. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Talking to a lawyer who understands the unique laws designed to protect motorcyclists can help you avoid misunderstandings with law enforcement, EMS, and insurance representatives. Talking to an experienced New York motorcycle accident lawyer as early as possible can even make the difference between the responsible party paying for your injuries and out-of-pocket costs (hospital bills, doctor’s bills, diagnostic tests, etc.) or you paying for them yourself. Due to a common misunderstanding of New York’s No-Fault Law, medical bills are often filed with the wrong insurance potentially leaving you with thousands of dollars to pay yourself. In fact, often No-Fault coverage is not available to riders of motorcycles.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident that was not, in whole or in part, your fault, contact Weiss & Associates PC today for free information regarding your rights. Our lawyers understand the unique driving challenges facing motorcyclists and are experienced with New York motorcycle laws.  We can also help you fight any New York motorcycle traffic ticket. Our goal is to avoid points and fines (and possible suspensions) for our clients. For help getting the compensation you deserve from your motorcycle accident and/or fighting your NY motorcycle tickets, schedule a free consultation today.