Understanding New York’s Motorcycle Safety Laws

While motorcycles are a convenient and gas-saving mode of transportation, they are statistically more dangerous than operating a car or truck. Motorcycle crashes are a leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents in New York, making up 53% of all traffic accident fatalities. Motorcyclists are also more likely to suffer severe injuries after an accident. For this reason, it is vital to understand how to safely operate a motorcycle in New York according to the state’s laws and regulations. Below, we discuss the various safety laws motorcyclists must follow on New York roads.

Motorcycle Laws in New York

There are several regulations motorcyclists must follow to operate their bikes in New York legally. Here are some of the most important laws:

Wear the Proper Equipment

New York’s helmet law is one of the most important motorcycle operation laws. This law requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets that meet federal motor vehicle safety standards (usually denoted by a US DOT sticker on the helmet). Motorcycle drivers and passengers of any age are required to follow this law. The only exception to this rule is when a motorcyclist is a part of a parade or exhibition. Motorcyclists must also wear approved eye protection, such as goggles or a face shield, regardless of whether the motorcycle has a windshield.

Licenses and Inspections

New York residents must have a valid Class M or MJ (junior) license to operate their motorcycle. Residents of another state must have a valid license in their home state to ride. In addition, motorcyclists must have their bikes inspected every 12 months at an official NY state-approved inspection station. Also, every motorcycle’s registration must be renewed by April 30th of each year.


There are several regulations regarding lighting on motorcycles. However, one law that is sometimes overlooked is having the motorcycle’s headlight and at least one rear light on whenever the bike is operational, even during the day. This makes it easier for vehicles to see motorcyclists on the road.

Road-Sharing Laws

One common cause of motorcycle accidents in New York is the failure to follow traffic and road-sharing laws. Motorcyclists may use one full traffic lane or ride side-by-side with one other motorcyclist in the same lane. Motorcyclists cannot share a lane with a motor vehicle. Motorcycles cannot ride in between lanes or weave in and out of traffic (referred to as lane splitting). Motorcyclists must also follow basic road rules every motorist should follow, such as using turn signals and only passing in allowed areas.

Personal Injury Claims After a Motorcycle Accident

Seek medical attention quickly after a motorcycle accident. Even if you feel fine immediately after a crash, it is wise to get a medical evaluation. You may not notice or understand the full extent of your injuries right away. While still at the accident scene, call the police and file a police report. This report will become an essential document when filing your personal injury claim. Before leaving the crash site, exchange contact information with the other driver, and take photos of the vehicle damage and your injuries. Then, report the accident to your motorcycle insurance company. However, refrain from giving them detailed information about the accident. Instead, contact a personal injury attorney. Motorcycle accidents do not fall under New York’s no-fault insurance coverage, so it is beneficial to work with an attorney to ensure you get compensation for your injuries, regardless of who was at fault.

Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents with Buffalo Injury Law Firm

Our experienced personal injury and New York car accident attorneys will help you receive optimal damages for your injuries, such as coverage for medical expenses and lost wages. Contact our office at (716) 646-8412 for a free consultation to discuss your options.