There is nothing more exciting than getting a chance to purchase a motorcycle for yourself or for your loved one. Driving down the roads to enjoy the sights or taking cross country trips can be an exciting adventure.
However, before you climb on board your motorcycle and head on down the street, you should be aware of some West Virginia motorcycle laws. These laws can protect you in case you get into an accident, prevent you from getting other motorists injured, and keep you from getting pulled over by law enforcement.
WV Motorcycle Rider and Passenger Laws
A person who decides to become a motorcycle rider must adhere to all rider and passenger laws while out on the road. Riders are required to obey all traffic signals, signs and speed limit postings like any other motor vehicle driver.
Motorcycle Protective Gear
When getting on a motorcycle, the rider must wear the appropriate protective gear. The rider needs to wear goggles, a face shield, or safety eyeglasses that are shatter-resistant. If the motorcycle is equipped with a windshield or a windscreen, it must have shatter-resistant material and comply with all Department of Transportation (DOT) or American National Standards Institute (ANSI) performance specifications. The only time eye protection is not needed is when you are riding your motorcycle off-road.
All riders must wear a protective helmet with a suitable neck or chin strap. The helmet is to prevent impact blows and penetration if something strikes the rider or if the rider loses control and falls off the motorcycle.
West Virginia Motorcycle Passenger Laws
If you plan to carry a passenger, the motorcycle must be designed to carry more than one person. The motorcycle must be equipped with an extra seat as well as footrests for the passenger who must be seated behind the rider. If you are attaching a sidecar to the motorcycle to carry passengers, the passenger must have safety belts and each passenger must have their own separate seat. All passengers must also adhere to West Virginia laws in regards to wearing the right protective gear as they all must wear a helmet no matter their age.
WV Motorcycle Lighting Laws
Since motorcycles are smaller and can be hard to see when entering a car or truck driver’s blind spot, especially at night, it is essential to have the right illumination so you can avoid being in an accident. In West Virginia, head lamps are required to be on during all hours.
The light should be bright enough to reveal your presence for up to a distance that isn’t less than 100 feet when you are driving less than 25 miles per hour, and up to a distance that isn’t less than 200 feet when driving over 25 miles per hour. The motorcycle can be equipped with a single beam or multiple beams. The head lamps must be aimed so the highest intensity of the light is not aimed higher than the center of the lamp so as not to blind other drivers on the road when they are at a distance of 25 feet in front of the motorcycle.
All motorcycles are required to be equipped with tail lamps, one to emit a red light to signal braking and another tail lamp or separate light that emits a white light to illuminate the rear registration plate. Additional lights for the side cowl and fender are permitted so long as they don’t exceed more than two lights. You can have an additional running board light so long as it doesn’t cause a glare.
Lane Splitting Rules in West Virginia
When traffic backs up, many motorcyclists enjoy the act of lane splitting. Lane splitting is an action where the motorcycle can drive between the two lanes of traffic. Lane splitting may be allowed in other states, or there are no laws established to forbid lane splitting to occur. In the state of West Virginia, however, lane splitting is not allowed and considered illegal.
If you are riding a motorcycle with a friend or spouse who also has their own motorcycle, you are allowed to share a lane. You can ride side by side together down the road so long as road conditions don’t cause this activity to be dangerous. In addition, you also need to take extra safety precautions when both you and the other motorcycle driver decides to make the same turn. Always use turn signals to warn other drivers of your intentions.
West Virginia welcomes motorcyclists to come to the state and enjoy the many sights and activities. Yet there are dangers to be aware of when driving beside vehicles that are much bigger than yours as you should take the proper precautions. If you happen to get involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, contact the personal injury law firm Johnstone and Gabhart, LLP. We can protect your rights and get you the compensation to pay for your injuries and any damages.