Riding a motorcycle is not like driving a motor vehicle. It is a more thrilling – and often more dangerous – way to get around. Motorcycle crashes increase the risk of fatality by 28 percent. Thus, it is important that motorcyclists are always aware of the newest legislation for their own safety. Some legislation concerning riding motorcycles in Alabama has recently changed, and everyone may not be aware of the new Motorcycle safety laws. If you’re currently a rider, here’s what you need to know about riding a motorcycle in Alabama so you can stay safe and avoid a traffic stop.
Changes in Alabama Motorcycle Safety Laws
The biggest change in Alabama Motorcycle law is with licensing. Previously, Alabama was one of the few remaining states that did not require a special license to operate a motorcycle. As of May 2015, all Alabama riders must possess a driver’s license with a class M endorsement to operate a motorcycle. A rider can establish this endorsement on their license by either passing the DPS’ motorcycle knowledge exam or completing a motorcycle safety course. Individuals who are at least 14 years of age may apply for a restricted license to operate a motor-driven vehicle, such as a moped. It is important to note that riders must carry their licenses and exhibit them on demand to law enforcement officers.
Basic Alabama Motorcycle Safety Laws
Laws for operating a motorcycle govern everything from what a motorcyclist must wear to how they may drive in the presence of other vehicles. An Alabama Motorcycle manual details some of the most specific laws, but for now, the basic regulations are as follows:
- Cyclists shall ride only on the permanent and regular seat and shall not carry any other person unless the cycle is designed and equipped with footpegs to carry more than one person.
- Cyclists shall not operate a motorcycle while carrying any package, bundle or another article which prevents the cyclist from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
- No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless wearing approved protective headgear (helmet).
- No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle without wearing shoes.
- No person shall operate any motorcycle with handlebars more than fifteen (15) inches in height above the portion of the seat occupied by the operator.
- No person riding upon a motorcycle shall attach himself or the motorcycle to any other vehicle on a roadway.
- All motorcycles are entitled to full use of traffic lanes, and no motor vehicles shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. However, this section shall not apply to motorcycles operated two abreast in a single lane. The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
- No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between rows of vehicles.
- No more than two motorcycles shall occupy a single lane, abreast of one another.
- The State of Alabama also encourages cyclists to:
- Use a plastic face shield attached to an approved protective helmet to ensure protection for the face and eyes.
- Wear appropriate protective clothing, including jacket, pants, gloves, boots, or sturdy shoes, to provide protection in a collision.
For more details on Alabama Motorcycle Safety Laws, visit the 2019 Motorcycle Operator Manual.