Motorcycle Laws And How They Pertain To California

Many motorcycle accident lawyers are avid bikers themselves and for all motorcycle enthusiasts, there is nothing better than setting off on your motorcycle cruising down the freeway on a gorgeous sunny day with the wind blowing through your hair. This sense of freedom is something that other vehicle drivers just don’t get. However in California, this idyllic description is not completely true. The reason for this is the California helmet laws. Although many Californian riders are up in arms about it, the state requires all motorcycle riders to wear safety helmets. In fact the wearing of helmets isn’t the only thing that’s different about motorcycle laws in California. A Motorcycle accident lawyer explains…


This has long since been a bone of contention amongst the biker fraternity as many suggest that the wearing of helmets should be a personal choice and not a mandatory one. Figures show that in the three years (2008, 2009, 2010) there were 560 fatalities in 2008, dropping to 394 in 2009 and dropping a further 9% to 358 in 2010. Many will say that this is because of the helmet laws and to back this up, tests carried out by the NHTSA under laboratory conditions, suggest that the wearing of a certified safety helmet is 42% more likely to save your life in the event of an accident. However, people in opposition to this suggest that the downfall in fatality levels is mainly due to the fact that less people are getting on the bikes now than they did say ten years ago and instead the figures are relative to that and not because of the act of mandatory helmets for all motorcyclists.

In addition to having to wear helmets, a motorcycle accident attorney explains that the state government has decreed that only those helmets that are of the approved safety standard are to be worn. The wearing of so-called ‘novelty’ helmets is also banned. This is a very important aspect to California motorcycle law and one that is not likely to go away. Californians are not forced to wear any other protective gear, they don’t have to wear leathers and they don’t even have to wear the right type of footwear. However you ‘gotta’ wear your helmet!

The Sharing of Lanes

This may come as a surprise to some but the state of California allows lane sharing. This means that motorbikes are allowed to drive between any car or other vehicle that is already driving in a designated lane. Many motorists find this law insane and erratic driving by lane swapping bikers is how many motorcycle accidents are caused. The California Highway Patrol however have set up guidelines to promote safer lane sharing, but they really are only that…guidelines. In it the pamphlet it suggests that bikers who are lane sharing keep to a speed that is akin to the traffic and if making a passing maneuver then they should go no more than 15-20 mph above the speed of the traffic they are passing. This is obviously without breaking the speed limitations.

So what are the practicalities of lane sharing? An experienced motorcycle accident attorney explains…

Many drivers are under the impression that a motorcyclist who is lane sharing is simply trying to beat the traffic in order to get ahead. In reality there is another more logical reason for allowing it. With California being a warm state, many bikes were air-cooled and the process of being stuck behind heavy traffic often lead to motorcycles overheating and stalling on the freeway. They could then potentially be sitting ducks for other vehicles who didn’t see them. The ‘rear ending’ of motorcycles was a real problem before lane changing laws were brought in. Therefore the law protects motorcyclists, whilst causing fewer accidents.

Motorcycle accidents are on the decline, however all the safety laws in the world won’t stop some motorcyclists from driving excessively fast, or driving dangerously. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, then you should call on the services of a highly skilled team of motorcycle accident lawyers, who are well versed in dealing with these types of situations. They have a good understanding of the law and as a result, will have the ability to fight your corner in order to deliver the full and fair compensation you deserve.