California Motorcycle Safety Laws
Photo Courtesy of MRE Corp | California Motorcycle Safety Training
Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rider (and passenger), it is important to know California motorcycle safety laws. Understanding the law and safety requirements can save you time and money, and more importantly, it could save your life.
Ride smart, ride safe. Here is a refresher on motorcycle safety, including required equipment, prohibited gear, and traffic laws:
- Daytime use of a headlight is required for vehicles manufactured after 1977.
- A rider should not drive a motorcycle with handlebars positioned so that they must hold their hands more than six inches above their shoulders to grip the bars while sitting in the seat.
- Left and right side mirrors are required by law.
- Full mufflers are required. Cut outs, and other similar bypasses, are prohibited.
- Turn signals are required by law.
- A passenger seat and footrest are required, if carrying a passenger.
- Riders (operators and passengers) are required to wear a safety helmet:
- Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% and reduce the risk of head injury by 69% (CDC)
- California Vehicle Code Section 27803 requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet when on a motorcycle, motorized bicycle or motor-driven cycle. It is also illegal for a helmeted passenger to ride with an operator who is not wearing a helmet. A helmeted driver will be ticketed under the law if a passenger on his or her motorcycle is not wearing a helmet.
- Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 includes the following minimum requirements for helmets:
- Thick Inner Liner: The liner is usually at least an inch thick and constructed of polystyrene foam
- Riveted Chin Straps: Chin straps should be sturdy and attach to the shell of the helmet with solid rivets
- Weight: Helmets meeting federal standards weigh at least three pounds
- Helmet Design: Nothing is allowed to protrude more than two-tenths of an inch from the shell of the helmet
- Earplugs are allowed, but only if they do not prevent a rider from hearing emergency vehicle sirens or another drivers horn.
- Only single earphone helmet speakers are allowed by law.
- Eye protection is not required.
Special Traffic Laws
- Lane splitting is allowed.
- On August 19, 2016, California became the first state to make lane-splitting by motorcyclists legal when Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 51 into law, authorizing the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop guidelines for riders.
- There is no specific statute addressing two motorcycles riding beside each other.
- Rider education is required for riders under 21.
- There is no age limit on passengers.
- Riders are required to carry liability insurance.
- Motorcycles towing trailers cannot exceed 55 MPH and must ride in the far right lane (two far right lanes on a four-lane highway).