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Rules for Riding Motorcycles

California Motorcycle Road Rules and Accidents

Below, our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will discuss various types of road rules that all motorcyclists must be aware of to legally and safely ride on California’s roadways. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a crash, our attorneys are always available to answer any questions you may have about motorcycle accident claims and damages.

Safety Gear

Before going for a ride, a motorcyclist should check the:

  • Throttle and levers.
  • Tire tread, air pressure, and brakes.
  • Headlights, brake lights, tail lights and signals.
  • Fluid levels and watch for leaks.

A helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment for any rider. California Vehicle Code (CVC) 27803 dictates that all motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a helmet. Helmets must also be in compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The outer shell of a helmet will protect you from abrasion and penetration, while the chinstrap will secure the helmet on your head. A face shield is also recommended.

Additionally, you should wear leather to prevent skin injuries and protect you from harm. Gloves and boots are recommended, as well.

Below are more California rules and laws regulating motorcycle safety:

  • All motorcycles are required to have both right and left mirrors, according to CVC 26709.
  • CVC 27801 indicates that handlebars are not permitted in a position that places a driver’s hands more than six inches above their shoulders when sitting on the seat.
  • Front and rear turn signals are required for motorcycles built and originally registered on January 1, 1973, or after.

Lane Splitting

Road Rules for Motorcycles

Lane splitting happens when a motorcyclist goes in between two lanes in order to move more quickly through traffic. This practice was originally legalized in 2016. California created several laws that are intended to protect motorcyclists who choose to lane split. According to CVC 22400, a motorist cannot drive at a slow speed that interrupts the normal flow of traffic unless it is absolutely necessary to do so for safety-related purposes. Furthermore, CVC 22517 prohibits drivers from opening a car door or leaving it unclosed unless it is safe to do so and will not block traffic.

Riding With Passengers

There are safety considerations that must be kept in mind prior to allowing a passenger to ride with a motorcyclist. A motorcycle needs to be designed for an extra passenger. Also, weight limits must not be exceeded. A motorcyclist is expected to know the limitations that come along with carrying a passenger. Lastly, the passenger should know the risks that come along with riding in a motorcycle.

When Passing

Many motorcycle accidents occur due to the motorcyclist’s lack of visibility on the road. A motorcyclist could be riding in a driver’s blind spot, which could increase the chances of a collision from happening. It is ideal for motorcyclists to make themselves as visible as possible before attempting to pass a vehicle. This could be done by making a signal, accelerating, and pulling over to the left side of the lane. Once the motorcyclist has passed the vehicle, they should create up to a six feet distance to allow enough space for vehicles behind them to react ahead of time to signals or actions.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers to Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a motorcycle accident, an experienced personal injury attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover the compensation you deserve for damages including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected]to schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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