The thrill of barreling down the open road with the wind in your face draws many people to riding motorcycles but motorcycle accidents are a very real factor to consider before hopping on a bike. A 2006 report by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found that 13 out of 100,000 cars on the road end up in fatal crashes compared to 72 per 100,000 registered motorcycles. That means that per mile traveled, motorcycle riders have a 35 times greater chance of dying in a crash than do those riding in a vehicle. Data released in 2005 showed that 4,008 motorcycle riders were killed in the United States in 2004, which was an eight percent increase over fatalities in 2003. Incidentally, automobile and bicycle riders also showed about an eight percent increases in fatalities in the same period.
There are over four million motorcycles registered in the United States, which represents two percent of all registered vehicles in the country. Despite this fact, motorcycle fatalities represent approximately five percent of all highway fatalities each year. One of the main reasons motorcyclists are killed in crashes at such high rates is because motorcycles do not provide a physical barrier between the rider and the road. Approximately 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death compared to 20 percent for automobiles.
Washington State Laws for On-Road Motorcycle Use
- Accepts motorcycle endorsements from other states
- Daytime use of headlights is required
- Modulating headlight permitted
- Eye protection is required unless bike is equipped with windscreen
- The handlebar can be no more than 30″ above the seat
- No restrictions on helmet speakers
- Lane splitting is not authorized
- Covered under lemon laws
- Maximum A-weighted sound level as measured at 50 feet:
- 78dBA at 45mph or less
- 82dBA over 45mph
- Stationary 20 inch standard on models before 1986–99dBA
- Left and right mirrors required (see statute R.C.W. 46.37.530 for special exceptions)
- Motorcycle endorsement required*
- Motorcycles may ride two abreast in same lane
- Mufflers are required
- Passengers under the age of 5 are prohibited
- A passenger footrest is required if carrying a passenger
- A passenger seat is required if carrying a passenger
- Random, periodic safety inspections required
- No restrictions on radar detectors
- Rider education is available for all eligible applicants but it is required for those under the age of 18. A rider education waiver may be granted upon passing a skill and knowledge test.
- Safety helmets are required
- Motorcycle insurance not required
- Turn signals are required if bike came equipped with them
*Getting your Motorcycle (2 wheel) Endorsement or Permit in Washington State
1. Complete and pass a motorcycle safety course through an approved motorcycle training school:
- The safety course will include training and the knowledge and riding skills tests required to get your endorsement.
- Once you pass the safety course, you must bring your course completion card to any driver licensing office within 180 days to receive your motorcycle endorsement.
2. Pass the knowledge and riding skills tests:
- An approved motorcycle training school can administer the test.
- Once you pass the knowledge test, you can apply for an instruction permit to ride on public roads. To apply for a permit, bring your pink test score sheet to a drivers licensing office.
- After you pass the knowledge and riding tests, bring your green score sheet to any driver licensing office within 180 days of passing the tests to receive your motorcycle endorsement.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!