Motorcycles are very different from passenger cars, trucks, and other, larger motor-vehicles. They are smaller, lighter, offer less protection from personal injury, handle differently on the road, and require a specific set of skills to operate safely. For these reasons, motorcycles are governed, not only by Indiana’s general traffic laws, but ones specific to the particular type of vehicle that is a motorcycle.
To lawfully operate a motorcycle on Indiana’s streets and highways, a motorcyclist must hold a valid Temporary Motorcycle Learner’s Permit, Motorcycle Learner’s Permit, Motorcycle Only License, or Motorcycle Endorsement on a valid Indiana Operator, Chauffeur, or Public Passenger Chauffeur license. All of the aforementioned permits and licenses require successful completion of an approved motorcycle driver education and training course, as well as the successful passing of a vision screening test.
According to Indiana Code (IC), all motorcycle riders or operators traveling on the streets or highways who are under 18 years of age are legally required to:
- Wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet; and
- Wear protective goggles, glasses, or transparent face shields (a full-face helmet provides eye/face protection).
Motorcyclists who are 18-years-old or older are not required to wear a DOT-approved helmet or any helmet for that matter, but are highly encouraged to do so as it is the key piece of protection that can mean the difference between injury and death in the event of a crash.
The motorcycle itself must also have certain equipment to be driven along Indiana’s roads. A resident of Indiana may operate a motorcycle on its streets and highways if the motorcycle is equipped with:
- No higher than shoulder-height handlebars;
- Front and rear wheel brakes that are in good working order;
- Both operator and passenger footrests or pegs;
- DOT-approved lamps and reflectors;
- A rear view mirror;
- A speedometer; and
- Mechanical or electric turn signals.
Exception: A motorcycle manufactured before January 1, 1956 may still operate on Indiana roads without lamps and reflectors, rear view mirror, speedometer, or turn signals.
Any Indiana resident who will be registering and/or operating any vehicle on Indiana’s public roads is required to meet a minimum amount of financial responsibility in the form of liability insurance. The minimum amounts are $25,000 for bodily injury or death to an individual, $50,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more individuals in a single accident, and $10,000 for property damage or destruction in a single accident. These minimums are also referred to as 25/50/10.
Motorcycle Rules of the Road
In addition to applicable Indiana traffic laws that apply to all motor-vehicle drivers, motorcyclists must obey the following:
- A motorcycle that has only 2 wheels in contact with the ground may carry only 1 passenger and only on a firmly attached seat that is designed for passenger use;
- A motorcycle may not carry any passenger if said passenger interferes with the driver’s ability to operate the motorcycle or obstructs the view of the person operating the motorcycle;
- A motorcycle operator may not carry any package or bundle that prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars;
- Any rider of a motorcycle whether an operator or a passenger is required to sit astride the seat;
- Headlamps must be turned on while the motorcycle is in operation, day or night; and
- Motorcyclists are entitled to full use of a traffic lane, but with rider consent, may also travel 2 abreast within one lane.
Follow the Law, Ride Free
As an avid motorcyclist with over 35 years of riding experience, I know the importance of following the law while riding to ensure safety and enjoyment of riding free. Motorcyclists follow Indiana’s motorcycle laws to stay safe so that we can take our motorcycles out tomorrow and the days after that. Unfortunately, it isn’t always enough. All the safety education, rider training, and defensive driving in the world may not protect you from the negligent actions of other motorists who do not know how to share the road with motorcycles. As a dedicated Indiana motorcycle law lawyer, as well as an experienced rider, I have the necessary knowledge and resources to help injured victims recover so they can get back on their bikes. I offer free consultations at 1-800-278-9200.