Motorcycle Laws & Regulations in North Carolina
At The Law Offices of John Drew Warlick, P.A., we are focused on protecting the rights of motorcycle riders. Our trusted attorneys have decades of experience with North Carolina motorcycle laws. Whether you’ve been injured because of another driver’s negligence, defective safety gear, or any other cause, we’re available to talk with you.
North Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Law
Under North Carolina law, everyone riding a motorcycle must wear a safety helmet that complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. This includes both motorcycle operators and passengers. If you’re not wearing a helmet at the time of an accident, it can complicate your claim and make it more challenging to seek compensation for your injuries.
North Carolina allows full helmets that include visors or three-quarter helmets that leave the face open to the wind. Face shields on full helmets protect riders’ eyes and help prevent accidents on the road by keeping sand, debris, and bugs out of riders’ faces. If riders choose a three-quarter helmet, the NC DOT recommends that riders wear goggles or other face protection on the road.
Helmets made according to safety standards must meet certain requirements. These include having a thick inner liner of foam, a DOT sticker showing the helmet is approved by the Department of Transportation, and a manufacturer’s label showing important information about the helmet. If a helmet is missing any of these items, it’s unlikely that it complies with the law.
North Carolina Motorcycle Safety Requirements
North Carolina requires that most motorcycles get annual safety inspections. While there are exceptions for motorcycles over 35 years old, nearly all other motorcycles must be inspected before operating on the road. This helps ensure that motorcycles meet minimum safety guidelines that can prevent injuries and save lives. As part of an inspection, inspectors will make sure that the motorcycle meets requirements such as:
- Functioning brakes that can stop the vehicle. If a motorcycle’s brakes cannot stop the vehicle quickly enough, it may not pass.
- Adequate brake conditions and brake system integrity. Inspectors will look at the brake pads and the entire brake system to identify problems.
- Headlamps. Headlights help you see at night and help others on the road see you.
- Taillights. Rear lights are required so others can see you. They must be red.
- Directional signals. Communication is essential on the road, and signals help other drivers predict your movements.
- Brake lights. Without working brake lights to warn drivers, other vehicles could hit you from behind.
- Exhaust system. Under North Carolina law, motorcycles, like other vehicles, need to be in good working order and have mufflers.
- Steering system integrity, including shocks. If you lose control of a motorcycle because of a steering problem, it could easily lead to life-threatening injuries.
- Tires and tire tread. Tires are the foundation of any vehicle, and it’s important that they are in good working order.
- Mirrors. On the road, you need to see your surroundings, and functioning mirrors allow that to happen.
- Horn. A horn can tell other drivers that you need space or warn them about danger.
Inspectors will look for these and any other potential problems with a motorcycle. If an inspector notices any problems that could endanger the safety of the rider, or others, it’s unlikely that a motorcycle will pass.
North Carolina Motorcycle License Requirements
To get a motorcycle endorsement in North Carolina, you must pass a knowledge test and a skill test showing that you know how to handle a motorcycle. Before you can take the knowledge test, you’ll need a full provisional, regular, or commercial driver’s license. To take a skill test, you’ll need the same. However, if you need time to develop motorcycle riding skills before the test, you can apply for a motorcycle learner permit.
Younger people from 16 to 18 who already have a full provisional license must get parental or guardian permission and take a safety course before they can apply for a permit. This helps give young drivers the skills they need before getting on the road.
North Carolina Lane Splitting Law
Lane splitting is illegal in many states because authorities believe it could lead to dangerous accidents. While California is currently the only state that explicitly allows lane splitting, some states like North Carolina don’t have clear laws on the subject. This can make motorcycle accidents more complicated because you’ll need to thoroughly understand what happened in the accident and who was at fault.
Under North Carolina motorcycle laws, riders are allowed to share a lane with each other. However, the law on lane splitting is less clear. North Carolina law doesn’t specifically allow lane splitting, nor does it explicitly make it illegal. That can make an accident involving lane splitting more challenging.
Lane splitting can be a risky behavior that could lead to accidents, so authorities and others discourage riders from doing it. If you were involved in an accident that may have involved lane splitting, speak with a Jacksonville motorcycle law attorney about your case. We can review the facts and let you know how lane splitting might affect your case.
Hurt in a Crash? Talk to a North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Now
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact The Law Offices of John Drew Warlick, P.A., today. For three generations, our attorneys have advised our friends and neighbors thought Onslow County on their rights and helped them pursue justice after serious accidents. We’re proud to stand up for the rights of the people of our community, and we fight every day to seek the compensation our clients deserve.
After an accident, speak with us about your options. For a free consultation, call us or contact us online now.