By Marcus Fernandez
If you ride a motorcycle, you could not ask for a better place than Florida to do it. Its near-perfect weather and popular attractions explain why it ranks as the second-most popular state based on its more than 645,000 registered motorcycles. Whether you live in Florida or are driving through, you need to know and obey laws that apply specifically to motorcycle riders. Here are ten motorcycle laws in Florida that all drivers should know.
1. You Must Have a Motorcycle Endorsement
The fact that you have a driver’s license does not allow you to operate a motorcycle in Florida. You must also obtain a motorcycle endorsement. The endorsement is required to operate any two- or three-wheeled motorcycle having a 50cc or larger engine.
If you are at least 16 years of age and have a driver’s license, you must complete and pass the Basic Rider Course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to have a motorcycle endorsement added to the license. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can obtain a license limited to motorcycle operation. To do so, you must pass the knowledge test and complete the Basic Rider Course. Just keep in mind that the motorcycle-only license does not authorize you to drive a car.
2. Florida Helmet Law
Riders younger than 21 years of age must wear an approved helmet when operating a motorcycle. If you are 21 or older, a helmet is optional. However, if you opt not to wear one, you must have insurance with at least $10,000 in medical benefits coverage. This coverage pays for medical care in case you suffer an injury in a crash.
3. Mandatory Eye Protection For All Riders
The statute that gives adult riders the ability to opt out of wearing helmets does not apply to protective eyewear. All motorcycle operators must wear goggles or other forms of protective eyewear when riding. This is for everyones safety.
4. Lane Splitting is Illegal in Florida
The practice of passing by riding between two occupied lanes of traffic, which is known as “lane splitting” is unlawful in Florida. State law protects the right of a motorcycle rider to the full use of a lane without being encroached upon by vehicles. At the same time, the law prohibits motorcycles from overtaking and passing between occupied lanes of traffic.
5. No More Than Two Motorcycles Riding Abreast
The law against lane splitting also makes it illegal for more than two motorcycles to ride abreast in a single lane. Lanes are not wide enough to safely accommodate more than two motorcycles riding side-by-side.
6. “Wheelies” and Other Stunts Are Illegal
You must remain in the seat and facing forward with both wheels on the ground when operating a motorcycle. Stunts, including “wheelies” in which the bike is ridden with only the rear tire on the road, are illegal.
7. Rules About Passengers
It is unlawful to carry a passenger unless your motorcycle is equipped with a designated seat for the person to sit on. If you do carry a passenger, the motorcycle must be equipped with footrests specifically for use by the passenger.
8. Listening Devices Cannot Obstruct the Ability to Hear
Listening devices that prevent you from hearing surrounding noise cannot be worn while riding a motorcycle in Florida. Wearing an earpiece connected to your cellphone would not violate the law as long as one ear is available to hear other sounds around you.
9. Headlights Must Be On, Always
Florida law attempts to improve motorcycle visibility to other drivers by making it mandatory for motorcycle headlights to automatically turn on whenever you turn on the engine and must remain visible while operating the vehicle. Cars and other vehicles turning into the path of an oncoming motorcycle is a leading cause of accidents, so keeping headlights on may prevent an accident from occurring.
10. Motorcycles Must Have Mirrors
All motor vehicles in Florida, including motorcycles, must be equipped with mirrors. The mirrors must permit a driver to see to the rear for a distance of at least 200 feet. Anything that gives operators of motorcycles the ability to increase their awareness of what is going on around them improves their ability to avoid an accident.
Getting Help After a Motorcycle Accident
When obeying the motorcycle laws in Florida is not enough to protect you from being injured in a collision with another vehicle, a Tampa personal injury lawyer may be able to help. If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, find out about your compensation rights by consulting with a motorcycle accident lawyer.